Friday, February 27, 2015

My process

I have had several people ask me what my process is when I get a new document.  I follow this sequence of events for every document I receive.  Since I do it the same way every time I don’t miss anything.

1) I scan the document and save it to my hard drive.  I put a complete source citation in the metadata of the image.  I have a consistent file naming system than I use so I can find any document I need very quickly.

2) If this is a document that I found online I do not make a paper copy.  If this is a document that I had to get from a repository/courthouse I put it in a sheet protector and I label both the document and the sheet protector with a complete source citation.

3) I transcribe and abstract the document.  I don’t do this for every document (yes, I know I should).  I use Transcript to make it a bit easier.

4) I extract the information into Legacy and attach a source citation to each entry.  This is a little more involved than it sounds because if there are any conflicts I have to address those conflicts. 

5) I then link the document to the appropriate place in Legacy. Where I link it depends on what sort of document it is. 


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Good news bad news

The bad news is, Kiokee Baptist Church’s earliest records from 1790-1832 no longer exist.  The good news is, they were microfilmed before they were destroyed.  The bad news is, there are only two copies of the microfilm in existence.  The good news is, one of the copies is at Mercer University in Macon.  The bad news is, these records have not been transcribed, abstracted or indexed and they need to be.  The good news is, Mercer will release the film via interlibrary loan and the Columbia County, Library has a microfilm reader with a flash drive so I can download the images.  The bad news is, it will probably take me quite some time to abstract everything. The good news is I will have the images at home so I can do them a little at a time.

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Original wills

When you see a will recorded in a county will book do you also check the loose probate packets?  After the person died the executor brings the original will to the courthouse to be proved.  The original witnesses (if still able) sign affidavits swearing to the validity of the will.  The copy that the executor has is the one the deceased actually wrote (or his agent wrote for him).  This will is filed with the loose papers and is separate from the Will Book where the clerk made a handwritten copy of the will.

My person of interest’s will was recorded in the county will book.  Some time after that the will book was damaged and an inch or so of the right side of the paper is missing.  I found the original will in the loose probate packets, intact. Another thing the original has that the clerk’s copy doesn’t are the original signatures.

I have another example where there wasn’t a will in the will book and it appeared as though the person died intestate.  I found the will in the loose probate packets.  Apparently the will was never recorded in the will book by the probate clerk but was presented after the person died for probate.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One clue leads you to another

I found the book Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers written in 1859 by James B. Taylor ONLINE.  Inside this book there was a reference to an article written in the Georgia Analytical Repository in 1802.  A quick check on World Cat let me know that the Georgia Analytical Repository 1800-1850 is on microfilm and that the Reese Library (Georgia Regents University) has it.  The Reese Library is one of my favorite repositories and it is a mere 25 minutes from my house. 

Why is this such a great find?  The guy am researching was born in 1706 and died in 1784. Needless to say, there are records but not a boatload. The article in the Georgia Analytical Repository was written by my guy’s son.  This may not be an official document from a courthouse but this is a son that grew up in his dad's household, migrated with his dad through 4 states, worked with his dad (both were pastors at the same church), was a grown man when his dad died (36 years old) and wrote the bio with plenty of first hand knowledge.  I am sure it is embellished a bit when he talks about how great his dad was but still, not bad!

Special Collections is open Monday 9-5. Oh yeah!


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 23, 2015


I am very frustrated right now.  I ordered five microfilms from the Family History Library (FHL) and all five are on backorder.  How is that even possible?  I have been ordering microfilm for the last 20 years and this is the first time that a film has been backordered. 

There is a lady that pulls documents for me at the FHL but I wanted to look at these films myself because I am looking not only for specific documents but for some clues to lead me to other documents. It is easier for me to do this than her since I know the background info. I might have to go ahead and ask her to pull the documents for me so that I can at least get a start on this.

Grumble, grumble…

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


Friday, February 20, 2015

First trip to the courthouse


I made my first trip to the courthouse for my new project. When I walked into the Columbia County Probate Court records vault I knew it was going to be a good trip.  On the counter was the very book I needed to start with.

I found 28 deeds of interest.  This only includes two of my three main people and none of the collateral relations.  This was a prominent family that had a lot of land and a lot of money so finding them in records is no problem.  The family arrived in what would become Columbia County in 1771.  Columbia County wasn’t formed until 1790 so I will have to go to the Richmond County courthouse to find the rest of the deeds I need.  My patriarch died in 1784 so all of his deeds will be in Richmond County.

I will be spending a lot of time in the Columbia and Richmond County Probate Courts because deeds are just one of the record sets that they hold.  I will also be looking at probate, actual land plats, marriage records, tax records and inferior and superior court records.  Some of the court records are actually indexed (quite unusual) so I am not as intimidated by them as I normally would be.

Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Local stuff

Map of Columbia County, Georgia 1796, courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia

I am very excited about a new project I am working on because almost everything is local. I usually write up family histories that take place somewhere other than where I live but this time I am working on a prominent local family, three generations, 1706-1832. I have two courthouses at my disposal that both have minimal records loss, I have a local newspaper that has been in print since 1785 and digital images are available, and the church they were members of  has intact records from 1790 onward  (on microfilm). Oh happy day! 

The story actually starts in Connecticut which is unfamiliar territory for me but once I get out of Connecticut and into Columbia County, Georgia I will be home free. I had to order microfilms for Connecticut church records and town vitals records.  You might see a blog post on this because I have never done research in Connecticut before so it will be interesting. 


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ancestor cards

Karen Jenkins

Karen Jenkins has come up with one of the best ideas I have seen in a long time, Ancestor Cards.   She posted her idea on The Organized Genealogist Facebook Page and she gave me permission to showcase it here.

Karen designed a template in MS Publisher to make cards for her ancestors (think trading cards).  There are just so many possibilities for this.  I have visions of passing these out at family reunions.  She has made the template available to anyone that wants it.

Karen’s Template

Here are some examples:

Copyright © 2015 Karen Jenkins, used with permission


Copyright © 2015 Ria Cabral, used with permission


Copyright © 2015 Laura Denio, used with permission


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Marmaduke Jowers

Do you ever come across a name that just intrigues you?  I would like you to meet Marmaduke Jowers.  I love his name and I want to know more about him.  I have just started researching Marmaduke.  My actual person of interest is a man named Edward Miles (a very ordinary name).  He was born about 1796 in South Carolina.  He married a woman named Charlotte.  If you look on Ancestry and FamilySearch a lot of people have his wife as Charlotte Jowers, daughter of Marmaduke Jowers.  I haven’t even proven that Edward married Charlotte Jowers let alone that Charlotte’s father was Marmaduke so I have a long way to go yet.  

Here is Marmaduke on the 1800, 1810, 1820 census in Barnwell County, South Carolina and there is a daughter the right age in the household to be Charlotte so no roadblocks yet.



mj 1800




1820mj 1820


I don’t see him in 1790 or in 1830.  By the census he was born about 1775ish. 

So here’s the question.  Where do you think the first place I am going to look for Marmaduke will be?  Probate.  Why?  Well, if Marmaduke had a will, that will might list a married daughter named Charlotte Miles.

I am writing this blog post as I am searching so you will find out at the same time as I do.  I only live about an hour from Barnwell County so I know that I can go to the courthouse if I need to, but, I don’t need to.  FamilySearch has Barnwell County’s will books and loose probate packets online.  The bad news is, neither record set is indexed. However, Google is my friend.  I did a search for “Barnwell County, South Carolina Will Index” and look what I found.

If you scroll down you will see this….

Jowers, Marmaduke
File Number:  042-044
Year:  1824
Date:  7 Jan
Image Numbers: 51-55

Well isn’t that helpful!  This is an index to the FamilySearch images themselves.  And here they are

Marmaduke died intestate (without a will).  How do I know?  Because an administrator, not an executor, handled the estate.  A Jenny Jowers is the administratrix. Wife?  Probably.  She was appointed administratrix on 02 Jan 1824 which explains why Marmaduke doesn’t appear in the 1830 census.  He mostly likely died late 1823.  I looked at the 1830 census again and there is a Jane Jowers listed as head of household.  This could possibly be Jenny.  I don’t see Charlotte Miles anywhere in the probate file so no luck there.

So where now?  Well, with a name as unusual as Marmaduke Jowers I am going to do as many internet searches as I can.  I will be keeping track of everything I do so that I don’t repeat myself.  There is one search I want to tell you about.

Google Books happens to be one of my favorites.  I found this little tidbit…

“Mr. DeTreville presented the petition of Marmaduke Jowers, praying a divorce from his wife…” 

This is dated 23 November 1847.  I found it in Journal of the Senate of the State of South Carolina By South Carolina. General Assembly. Senate (page 8-9).  Obviously a relation of some sort, probably a son.

Google Books coughed up something else that was very interesting.  I was able to see a little snippet from the book Clarke County cousins: Clarke County, Alabama by Lois Jowers Dealy and Maxine Jowers Frederick. 

“There were at least four Jowers who received U.S. Land Grants because of having served in the Revolutionary War: Thomas (1784) in Richmond County, North Carolina; George Jowers (1785) in Cheraw District, South Carolina: Marmaduke Jowers (1787) in Barnwell District, South Carolina and a John Jowers (1788) in Cheraw…”

This information of course needs to be verified. This isn’t my Marmaduke but it could easily be my Marmaduke’s father.  So now I have three distinct Marmaduke Jowers in three different generations.  I have a slight problem.  The probate packet I found, is it for my Marmaduke or this Rev. War Marmaduke?  I am not sure yet. 

As I said, this investigation is at the very beginning.  Right now I am putting together a solid research plan for a couple of different research goals.  My ultimate goal is to find out if Edward Jowers married a woman named Charlotte Jowers, and if so, was she the daughter of Marmaduke Jowers.  I would also like to learn more about all of the Marmaduke Jowers.  Anyone with a cool name like that deserves further investigation.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Mad Hatter

You can read Part I of this blog post HERE.

I now have George’s death certificate1 (Thank you, Kirsty Gray!).  Click the image to make it bigger and then take a look at the cause of death.  Not bad for my very first death certificate from England.  Now I want to know more. (Note, the GRO accidentally typed in 1840 at the top.  It is supposed to be 1860 which is confirmed by the date written on the certificate itself).



And here is a newspaper account that answers some of the questions.

SUICIDE OF A TRADESMAN IN PICADILLY BY THE FUMES OF CHARCOAL – On Monday night, Mr. Langham, deputy coroner for Westminster, held an inquest in St. George’s vestry-room, Grosvenor-square, on the body of Mr. George Glaentzer, hatter, of 55, Piccadilly, who died from the inhalation of the fumes of charcoal in a small room in the above-mentioned house.  From the testimony of several witnesses, it appeared that the deceased was an unmarried man, and being pressed with pecuniary difficulties, a sheriff’s officer took possession of his premises for a debt of 44l. 8s. 2d. Deceased took it much to heart, and desired the sheriff’s officer to leave, and on his refusal he took up his hat and said, “If you will not go, I must,” and immediately left the house. He, however, returned about a quarter to eleven at night and went up-stairs to bed, and not rising as usual about six o’clock, some alarm was created, and on the door being burst open he was found lying on a mattress partially dressed and quite dead. The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide by suffocation from charcoal whilst in a state of unsound mind.” 2

It is interesting that George was a hatter because there might have been a contributing cause to his “insanity.” “Mad Hatter Disease” or chronic mercury poisoning was an occupational hazard of hatters during this time period. The symptoms included neurological problems such as mental confusion and emotional disturbances.3

George’s probate file is on order. Maybe there are more answers there.


1 England and Wales, death certificate for George Glaentzer, died 27 September 1860; citing 1a/157/271, December quarter 1860, Saint George Hanover Square registration district, May Fair sub-district; General Register Office, Southport. 

2 "Suicide of a tradesman in Piccadilly by the fumes of charcoal," Reynolds Newspaper, 07 October 1860, p. 7, col. 4; digital images, The British Newspaper Archive ( : accessed 14 February 2015).  

3 “Mad Hatter Disease,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 14 February 2015).


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, February 13, 2015

CSM William Perry Simmons (1933-2015)

Simmons, William 1933

My Uncle Billy died yesterday after an extended illness.  He was such a great guy I thought I would tell you a little bit about him.  He was a Command Sergeant Major in the Army’s Special Forces (Green Berets).  He fought in Korea and Vietnam and received medals for bravery and multiple purple hearts.  My dad was in the Air Force but it seemed that the two of them managed to always get stationed close enough together that I saw a lot of my uncle when I was growing up.  I thought he was the coolest because he jumped out of airplanes for a living.  The picture looks a little ratty but that is because my dad carried this picture in his wallet for many years.  I have a lot of pictures of my uncle but I think he is so handsome in this one.

My Uncle Billy was the oldest of six children born to William Houston Simmons and Docia Leora Perry in rural Lamar County, Mississippi.  He grew up dirt poor and the military was his way out.  He went from the bottom all the way to the top. He always stayed in touch with his extended family in Mississippi and never forgot his roots.

My uncle loved to fish.  When he was a boy he fished to help put food on the table but he never tired of it and continued to fish his entire life.  I have pictures of me fishing next to him when I was maybe five years old. When I was older he would take me out into the Atlantic about 18 miles out.  It made me a little nervous and he thought that was funny.  He loved to fish for the big game fish and he entered a lot of tournaments.  As usual, I thought he was pretty cool.

My Uncle Billy was a man you could look up to and I am very proud of him.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The county loan shark’s obituary

Back in 2013 I introduced you to Calvin Lewis, the county loan shark.  I was thinking about Calvin today so I thought I would post his obituary.

Not Dead, but Sleepeth
Died, in Columbia county, on the 26th day of January, in the 25th year of his age, Mr. Calvin R. Lewis. Gifted with a rare combination of attractive qualities, this devoted man adorned the circle in which he moved, and by the warmth of his affection, and the unchanging fidelity with which he sustained his relations in life, enshrined himself in the hearts that now mourn that they shall see his face no more; crowning a faithful life by a death -- no, not by a death -- a passage from earth to Heaven, brilliant with celestial glory. The shadow of death rested not upon him, but only upon the stricken hearts that could not soar with him amid the unfolding glories of immortality, that in the trying hour opened to his enraptured vision, and made the chamber of his departure a place not far from Heaven, leaving a wife and two small children.
The Christian Index please copy.

I love these old obits that are all about character traits and nothing at all about genealogy.  So was Calvin a loan shark or pillar of the community?  Who knows! 

I wish I knew how Calvin died since he was so young.  There are no newspaper articles giving us any details.  If he had met some sort of violent death it would have most likely made the paper.  The Augusta area was hit pretty hard in the Yellow Fever epidemics of 1839 and 1854 but it is unlikely Calvin was affected by these.2  Calvin was an overseer on a plantation.3  Farming accident maybe? 

His probate file wasn’t enlightening but since his probate dragged out for 12 years I might try nosing around in the court records.  Sometimes important court proceedings don’t make it into the probate file.  Lucky for me the courthouse is less than five miles from my house.

1 "Not Dead, but Sleepeth," The Augusta Chronicle, 16 February 1851, p. 3, col. 2; digital images, Augusta Chronicle Archives ( : accessed 20 September 2008). 

2 Joseph Jones, Contagious and Infectious Diseases (Baton Rouge: Board of Health of the State of Louisiana, 1884), 212.

3 1850 U.S. census, Columbia County, Georgia, population schedule, p. 263 (stamped), dwelling 436, family 436, Calvin Lewis household; digital images,  ( : accessed 15 June 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 66.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No excuses

I am just amazed at the number of free webinars out there on every genealogical topic you can think of.  By now most people know about Legacy’s Webinars and FamilySearch’s Learning Center Videos but now many of the state genealogical societies are getting on the bandwagon and offering free webinars to the public.  You can also find tons of stuff on YouTube (just make sure you vet the presenter).  There is no reason nor excuse to not educate yourself.  The quality of your research will improve and you will see some of your brick walls tumble.  To give you an idea, here is a list of past webinars from the Georgia Genealogical Society (GGS).  Look at all of these top notch presenters!

  • Developing the Genealogy of a Community: A Case Study - Tim Pinnick
  • Packrat or Genealogist? Effective Methods for Organizing Your Family History Research - Lisa Alzo
  • What's a Palatine Anyway? - James M. Beidler
  • How to Save Your Research from Destruction & Ensure Its Future Survival - Lisa Louise Cooke
  • Using Search Engines & Databases to Find African American Families - Angela Y. Walton Raji
  • Staying Safe Using Social Media - Thomas MacEntee
  • Get the Most out of NEHGS…From Home! - Rhonda McClure
  • Introduction to - Jen Baldwin
  • ABCs of DNA: introduction to genetic genealogy - Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist
  • Digital Public Library of America (DP.LA): an Introduction to the Basics - Greer Martin
  • Finding and Using Online Legal Resources - Michael Hait, CG
  • Google+ for Genealogists - Drew Smith
  • Using HeritageQuest databases with George G. Morgan - George G. Morgan
  • Using Google Earth for Genealogy - Lisa Louise Cook
  • Using Mocavo to Propel Your Research - Michael J. Leclerc
  • Hidden GALILEO Databases for Genealogy - Laura W. Carter
  • Hark! Those Tombstones Are Talking to Us - Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL
  • Photography and Genealogy - Karen Molohon
  • Research at the Atlanta History Center - Sue VerHoef
  • Harnessing the Power of Indirect Evidence - Susan Sloan
  • Digital Cemeteries and Mobile Apps - Geoff Rasmussen
  • National Home for Disabled Soldier's Homes - Rick Sayre, CG
  • Family Search Wiki - Laura Carter
  • Evernote for Genealogists - Monica Hopkins
  • Discover Your Culinary Heritage - Maureen Taylor
  • Show Don't Tell: Creating Interactive Family Histories - Lisa Alzo
  • Blank or Prize: What You Need to Know about Georgia's Land Lotteries - Linda Woodward Geiger, CG, CGL
  • Finding your Georgia Military Ancestors - Pamela Coleman Nye
  • Using Our Nation's Library Online - Laura Prescott
  • Tax Digests and the Genealogist - Joanne Smalley
  • Using FamilySearch to Solve Genealogical Problems - James Ison, AG, CG
  • Exploring the Georgia Archives Virtual Vault - Kayla Barrett
  • eBooks for Genealogists - Pamela K. Sayre, CG, CGL
  • Using a Blog as Your Online Research Log - Drew Smith
  • The Power of DNA in Unlocking Family Relationships - Ugo Perego, PhD
  • Using MSWord to Write Articles or Your Family Story - Liz Snow, GGSQ editor
  • Finding and Using African American Newspapers - Tim Pinnick
  • Census Records 101 - Karen Molohon
  • Everything You Need to Know About Fold3 - Peter Drinkwater

The next webinar on the schedule for the GGS is on February 18th, Claws or Clues: Scratching for the Elusive Ancestor – C. Ann Staley.  This webinar is free to the public.  You don’t have to be a member of the GGS to watch it.

Here is the 2015 webinar schedule for the North Carolina Genealogical Society.
Here is the
2015 webinar schedule for the Florida Genealogical Society.
Here is the
2015 webinar schedule for the Illinois Genealogical Society.
Here is the
2015 webinar schedule for the Southern California Genealogical Society.
Here is the
2015 webinar schedule for the Wisconsin State Genealogy Society.

That should get you started.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Working in the cloud

Several people have asked for information about how they can share their data file between two computers using cloud storage.  We see this question come through technical support all the time.  I am specifically talking about Legacy but this should work for any genealogical database program that you use.  As a matter of fact, Evidentia is specifically configured to save to Dropbox. Evidentia isn’t a database program per se but it is still a very popular genealogy program.

I will use Dropbox as an example since most people are familiar with this one but this will work for any of the cloud storage servers.  I personally use OneDrive.  The way Dropbox  works is there is a file folder on your hard drive that sync’s to the Dropbox server.  If you have more than one computer then Dropbox will keep the files on both computers sync’d.  All three locations will have exactly the same files.  For example, I have a desktop and I have a laptop.  Both are sync’d to Dropbox.  If I add a file to the Dropbox folder on my desktop, Dropbox will automatically upload that file to the Dropbox cloud server and in turn automatically download it to the Dropbox folder that is on my laptop so that all three places have the identical information.

In Legacy 8, your data file is normally saved to the Documents\Legacy Family Tree\Data folder (in previous versions this will be C:\Legacy\Data).  Instead of saving your data file there you will save it to the Dropbox folder.  Simply move your family files there.  Your family files will have .fdb extensions.  You will also want to move your Media files there as well.  If you have Legacy 8 this is easy because you can use the Gather Media tool and you will not lose your media links.  I would have them in a single folder named Media.  You will also want to change the file paths in the Options menu so that Legacy knows where you want to put things. Go to Options > Customize > 6. Locations.  I would also send my backup files to Dropbox.  To do that all you need to do is go to File > Backup File and change the file path on that screen.  If you use Dropbox for other things you might want to be a little more organized and label your folders like this

Legacy Data Files
Legacy Media Files

or however it makes sense to you.  For those Legacy users that know what the user files are, do NOT put your user files up on Dropbox because Legacy is programmed to look for those in the Legacy folders on your hard drive.  If you put the user files in the Dropbox folder Legacy will not “see” them.  Both your desktop and laptop will work off of the user files on that specific computer.  If you don’t know what user files are then you don’t need to worry about this at all.  If you want both computers to have the exact same settings then you can copy the user files from one computer to the other.  Personally, I would never bother doing this.  I would just set each computer up.  It isn’t a big deal.

Now that you have it set up you are ready to go.  There is one VERY important thing you must remember.  You cannot have the file open on both computers at the same time.  Why?  Because if the two versions are different, and both computers sync to Dropbox, then you risk corrupting your file.  The proper way to do it is to have Legacy open on only one computer.  When you are finished on that computer close Legacy.  You will now need to wait until the file has completely sync’d which means it is has been uploaded to the Dropbox server and it has been downloaded to the second computer.  This can take minutes or it can take hours depending on several factors; the size of your file, the speed of your ISP and the speed of the Dropbox servers at that moment.  Dropbox will tell you when everything has been sync’d.  There will be a Dropbox icon in your tray at the bottom of the screen.  If you hover over it you will get a message that says, “Up to Date.”


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 9, 2015

RootsTech 2015

RootsTech 2015 will be February 12th-15th in Salt Lake City.  I won’t be there.  Bummer. 

Once RootsTech is underway there will be a link on the home page to view some of the sessions via live streaming.  I watched several great sessions last year and I am really looking forward to it again this year.  If you can’t watch the sessions live they will also be posting the recordings on the website.  The schedule of what will be available via streaming has not been officially released on the RootsTech website yet but FamilySearch has the inside scoop and here is the schedule they have, 20 “Can’t Miss” RootsTech Sessions to Help You Grow your Family Tree.  I don’t think this represents the full list of what will be able but we won’t know for sure until it is officially posted.  What has been posted on the RootsTech site are the syllabuses (yes, I know, syllabi) for all of the sessions.  WOW! 

RootsTech Class Syllabus


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, February 6, 2015

Before you contact Technical Support

Here are some easy things to try before contacting Legacy’s Technical Support with a problem:

1) Close Legacy, reboot your computer, open Legacy back up. This simple maneuver can fix a lot of issues. It will get all of the Legacy program files lined back up correctly. If you have had Legacy open for a long time without closing it down the program might start acting a bit odd. If you can’t open Legacy by double clicking on the desktop icon this could mean that a component of Legacy is still open in the background even though you can’t see it. This prevents the program from opening and a simple reboot will fix this.

2) Download and reinstall the current update. We get a lot of emails from people not running the current build. Our programmers periodically release updates that have bug fixes and minor enhancements in them. Keeping your program updated will take care of a lot of issues. You do not need to uninstall anything first. Updating Legacy will not affect your data files so it is perfectly safe to do this. Even if you are running the current build, if Legacy is acting strangely simply reinstall it.

3) Do a check/repair on your file. Select File > File Maintenance > Check Repair. Click Proceed (If you are using an earlier version of Legacy you will need to click Proceed twice). If an error is found select No so that the check/repair will continue. If there are any errors found, run the check repair again until there are no errors. If there are any errors that Legacy can't clear automatically, look at the log file that is generated and it will give you the information you need to clear the errors manually. Legacy is a true database program built on the MS Access platform. When you add data, merge data, or delete data “holes” form in the database. A check/repair gets the data lined back up. The process is similar to doing a defrag on your hard drive. The check/repair also fixed many other common problems keeping your file in tip top shape. It is very important to do routine check/repairs. The bigger your file is and the more you are in it manipulating the data the more important this becomes.

4) If you are getting an error message you can search for that error in our Knowledge Base. These Knowledge Base articles have step by step instructions for clearing the error. Most of the error messages Legacy produces have an error number such as Error 3019. You simply type Error 3019 in the search box on the Knowledge Base page. If the error doesn’t include a number, type in the exact wording of the error in the search box.

5) If you want to know how to do a specific task in Legacy, don’t forget to search the Help File. There are links for Tutorial Lessons, Step by Step Instructions and Tips and Tricks. You can also search the Help File for key words to find what you are looking for. Our Knowledge Base also has many articles about the different tasks you can do in Legacy complete with screenshots and step by step instructions. If there is any topic you would like to see covered in the Knowledge Base please let us know. We also have an excellent free Legacy for Beginners Video that is great for new users and for anyone switching over from another program.

Here are some tips if you do need to contact Technical Support:

1) There are a couple of different places within Legacy that have a direct link to the Problem Report Form. You can find it on the Legacy Home tab. You will also see the Report a Problem link on the right under Support . You can go to Help > Report a Bug if you are using Version 8. The Report a Problem form itself is on our website and you can access it directly HERE.

This form is nice because it asks you everything that we in Technical Support need to know to be able to help you. The one thing that you can’t do with this form is attach screenshots. We love screenshots because a picture is worth a thousand words. If you think a screenshot would help us understand the problem better you can email us directly at If you do contact us through the Problem Report Form, once the conversation gets started you will be able to attach screenshots, just not with that original message. If you email us directly make sure that you include the basic information we need to know.

  • Version of Legacy you are using including the build number. if you are using Version 8 you can find this by going to File > File Properties. In previous versions go to Help > General Information. You can also see in on the Legacy Home tab under Updates over on the right side of the screen.
  • Are you using the standard or deluxe version?  If you are using the deluxe version please include your customer number. You will find this on the same screen as the build information.
  • What version of Windows are you using?  Are you running Legacy on a PC, Mac or a Linux machine?
  • Please include the step by step instructions (1, 2, 3) that will cause the error. It is very important for us to be able to reproduce exactly what you are seeing.

2) Depending on what the problem is we may ask to see your data file. If we need it we will send you complete instructions on how to get it to us. We are aware that personal database files may have sensitive information in them as well as information about living people. We treat your file with the utmost confidentiality and respect and the file will be deleted off of our computer as soon as we have resolved your issue.

3) It is very important that you do not delete any of the ongoing conversation if the email starts going back and forth. We help a lot of people and we will not remember what the conversation is about unless we can refer back to the previous messages especially if several days go by before you email us back. Just hit Reply and type any new response at the top.

4) If you have more than one distinct issue, please submit separate problem reports for each one because the conversations can get very complicated if we are talking about three different problems at once.

5) Tech Support is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, Mountain Time, excluding major U.S. holidays.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It’s the little things

I normally don’t do any research in the UK but this week it has been all about England and I learned a lot of cool things.  A little background info.  I am doing a one name study on the Glaentzer surname.  It is a rare surname so it is a great name for this sort of project.  I belong to The Surname Society and I was talking to The Surname Society’s Committee Chair, Kirsty Gray, about my Glaentzers.  As far as I knew the Glaentzers were/are in Germany with one known line in the United States and one known line in Italy.  Kirsty was playing around with it and found an entry for a Glaentzer on the FreeBMD website.  I am familiar with this site and I have actually done a couple of searches there but I never thought to run my Glaentzer name through it.  This is the first place Kirsty would think to check because she is English.  There is a single entry in the death indexes for a George Glaentzer who died in 1860.  Kirsty is arranging to get the death certificate for me. This will be the first death certificate that I will have for England.

Kirsty then sent me information about George’s probate that she found on  I couldn’t pull this up myself because I only have a US subscription and not the World one.  I then learned that the probate index she was looking at on can be accessed directly on the English government website HERE. You can search their probate index for any death 1858 or later.  There is a single Glaentzer entry, George.



You can order the probate packet which I then did for £10 which translates to $15.21. 

There was a very important clue in this index,

“…Francis Glaentzer the Brother and one of the Next of Kin of the said Deceased now residing at Ancona in Italy…” 

Bingo!  This is the Italian line.  I checked my file and sure enough I found George (Georg)  and his brother Francis (Franz Joseph).  They are my half 1st cousins, 5 times removed. Every Glaentzer is related to me somehow.  This is another perk when working with a rare surname.  Franz was known to have immigrated to Italy and his line is still there today.  I am in contact with the living descendants.

I also learned two other very important things.  I learned that I can text people in England, I had never done that before, and I learned that the Windows shortcut for £ is ALT-0163.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My other new toy–Scrivener

Scrivener; for Microsoft WindowsScrivener 2 for Mac OS X


My other new toy is Scrivener. I bought it (again on super sale) after hearing several writers I admire praising the program. I wasn’t having much luck learning my way around Scrivener's features on my own but then I attended Lisa Alzo’s Scrivener Mini Boot Camp. If you missed it you can buy the video download for $4.95 HERE. Lisa is a great speaker and I learned a lot.  I am now ready to put Scrivener to use.

In a nutshell, it is an organizational system and writing platform for writing projects. I wouldn’t use Scrivener for something short like blog posts but rather for more involved projects such as journal articles, client reports, proof arguments and even full length family history books. What I like about it is that you can write in sections and easily rearrange those sections. You can also write yourself notes and you can pull in all of your research materials so that they are easily accessible. There is a “corkboard” view where you can see at a glance all the different parts of your project.  You can write a short synopsis on the “index cards” shown in the corkboard view to give you a little overview of each section. I already have a couple of projects in mind for Scrivener. It is a very cool tool!

The participants of the Mini Boot Camp all asked Lisa to do a follow up webinar for intermediate users.  She and Thomas MacEntee (the webinar sponsor) were receptive to the idea so hopefully Part II will out soon.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My new toy–Dragon NaturallySpeaking


I had been wanting to get Dragon for eons but I was just too cheap.  I finally ended up snagging it during one of Amazon’s super sales. I haven’t had a lot of time to work with it yet but I played around with it this weekend and so far I really like what I see. I have used the built in voice recognition program in Windows 8 but I really don’t like it because even after doing tons of “training” it was still making a lot of mistakes.  With Dragon I didn’t have to do ANY training with it to get it to accurately recognize my voice. I am typing this blog post using Dragon.  I have already tested it out in several other programs including Legacy and Evernote and it is working great.  The only drawback is that my kids snicker a bit when they see me talking to myself.  I don’t know why they think that is so odd because I do that whether I am using Dragon or not.


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis

Monday, February 2, 2015

Which fields have sources?

A lot of people want to know how to make their labels change colors when there is a source attached to that field.

Since this is a family line that I am actively working on, and this line is 100% German, I changed Legacy to German just for fun.  Notice that some of the labels are red.  That means I have sources for those fields.  I am going to show you how to color the labels.  Just as a side note, if you look at the list of events down below you can tell which events have sources by looking to see if there is a book icon off to the right.  We might as well talk about all four columns while we are at it.  The first column is whether or not the event has been shared, the second column shows if you have a source, the third column shows if you have any media attached to that event and the last column will tell you if there is some sort of problem with the event.  You can click any of the screenshots to make them bigger.

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So here is what you need to do.  On the main ribbon/toolbar select Options > Change Colors.  A Set Color Scheme dialog box will pop up. Select Click here to change other user-interface colors.  I changed back to English so that you can read the dialog boxes.

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Here is the next dialog box you will get. Make sure you click the Other Colors tab.  The first box is Sources.  All you have to do is mouse click in the field to the right of the word Sources and you can change the color.

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You can see that I changed mine to wild pink just because I could. 

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And here is what it looks like on the Individual’s Information Screen.

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Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis