Monday, November 30, 2015

How long does it take to do it right?

The answer is 22 minutes. I wanted to see how long it would me to find a census record, download and save the image, extract/analyze the data, and enter it into Legacy.  I chose the 1830 census because I knew that it would be harder to work with.

  • I found Jacob Perry’s household in Perry County, Mississippi on FamilySearch.
  • I brought up the image. This happens to be a two page census so I had to download, crop, cleanup and then save two images.  I used Picasa.
  • I created a Master Source for this census.
  • I entered a 1830 US Federal Census event for Jacob and entered the extracted data that I found into the event notes.
  • I attached both images to this event adding captions and dates.
  • I attached the master source to the event and then added the needed citation detail using the Source Clipboard making it easy for me to use this citation as many times as I need to.
  • I then copied and pasted the event to each of the people on the census using the Event Clipboard (I figured out who they were based on the ages).


22 minutes. Not bad.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 23, 2015

When microfilm is better than the original

Here is what I have in my marriage notes for Eli Meredith and Martha McMichael:

Jane Doe* at the Pike County, AL Circuit Court Clerk's Office states that Eli and Martha show up in their marriage index but when she went to the marriage book itself to make a copy the page was missing. [*name changed]

FamilySearch now has the Alabama county marriage books online.  Look what I found.

Meredith, Eli and Martha McMichael marriage 1856

This marriage book was microfilmed in 1979.  Sometime after that pages from the book were torn out.  I have several missing marriages from this same book that are no longer missing. 


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mystery marker

Hickman, Katie 1982Copyright © 2009 Frances Kirkland, used with permission

This marker is in the Entrekin Family Cemetery in Forrest County, Mississippi. I couldn’t find Katie in my file which surprised me because I know every Simmons in a several county area. I assume she married a Simmons but which one? It took me about 30 minutes of frantic mouse clicking on the internet cross referenced with the information I already have my file to figure out that she was the daughter of George Hickman and Mary Catherine Elizabeth Entrekin. I was now able to place her in the family. Katie’s mother Mary was the sister to my great-aunt’s husband. My great-aunt also happens to be a Simmons. There are a lot of Simmons – Entrekin marriages so I am pretty familiar with the Entrekins too. I couldn’t find an obit for Katie which of course was the first place I looked. I then expanded my search a bit. I found her in a very unexpected index, the California Death Index on  California?  Really?  Here is the entry, it is definitely her. 


I just have to know who she was married to.  Two of my great-uncles are buried in this cemetery but I can rule out that she was married to either one of them.  They were the only two of the brothers that lived in this area along with one of their sisters (the one that married the Entrekin).  Knowing this family so well makes this really frustrating.  There were more brothers but they didn’t live in this area.  All but one would have been quite a bit younger than Katie. I am keeping this one other brother of the right age on my radar for now but this would have meant that he and Katie were divorced and that she never remarried which is a less likely scenario than if it was a different Simmons altogether.  There are plenty of Simmons cousins out there but not in this community.

So what is my next move?  I have a request for Katie’s California death certificate in the envelope which will be mailed today.

I did try searching on’s tree for a Hickman with a father named George and a mother with the maiden name of Entrekin that married a Simmons to no avail.  Even if I had found it, I would have still ordered the death certificate.  Stay tuned!


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Organizing your genetic genealogy by Diahan Southard

Organizing Your Genetic Genealogy by Diahan Southard has got to be one of the best Legacy webinars that I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of them. I happen to be big into DNA right now and I really needed some help with organizing all of the incoming information. I took tons of notes but I am going to have to watch this one again. She explains all of the tools that you can use and I am very excited about settings up her recommended systems.  I know this will help me with some of my brick wall ancestors.

This webinar will be FREE through 18 Nov 2015.  After that you will need to be a Webinar subscriber to access it.  If you are already a webinar subscriber you will also be able to download the handout that goes with the webinar as well as use the new tools on the website to keep your webinars organized (can you tell I am all about being organized?)

Click the graphic to be taken to the webinar.



Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 9, 2015

Yet another use for Excel

I LOVE MS Excel.  Actually, I love spreadsheets in general. It doesn’t have to be Excel specifically though I do think Excel is the best.

If you are on Facebook there is a group called Excel-ling Genealogists where you will see all kinds of great ideas on how to use spreadsheets to your advantage.  There are some sample files uploaded to this group that you will also have access to if you join.

I normally use spreadsheets to help me analysis data.  I can do multi-tiered sorts which helps me see patterns.  I also use a spreadsheet for my research log when I am working on a major case study/proof argument.  I recently came up with another spreadsheet idea that I thought I would pass on.

By now you should know that one of my priorities is being an ethical genealogist.  I love photos of grave markers so I love sites like Find A Grave.  When I see a photo of interest to me I ALWAYS ask permission from the photographer to download the photo.  For more info on that click HERE. When I send the email I ask about the specific photo but I also ask for blanket permission for any other photos that they took as well as permission to use any of the photos on the three blogs I write for if the need should arise.  I always assure them that I will give them full credit as the photographer.  I have never been turned out.  People are usually understanding and cooperative when you are respectful and acknowledge them.

I used to keep a simple list of these people in Evernote but I found that as the list got longer it was harder for me to see if I already had permission from someone when I found a photo I needed.  I decided that this would be the sort of thing that would be better in a spreadsheet.  I don’t want to screenshot my actual spreadsheet because it contains the names of living people (again, an ethics thing) so took a screenshot of a pretend one.  I keep the list sorted in alphabetical order so that it is easier for me to see people.  If the person operates under a nickname I can quickly change the sort.  My real list is quite a bit longer than this one because I have been snagging photos from Find A Grave for over six years.



Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 2, 2015

A very sobering document

I received my grandmother’s death certificate from the Archives in Leverkusen, Germany this morning. Theresia (Glaentzer) Weichert was shot and killed on 21 June 1945, 45 days after the war ended in Germany.  She was only 35 years old. She was walking home with a neighbor after dark and was accidentally shot by American soldiers who were looking for German soldiers that were still hiding.  At the time of her death her husband was still in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp so their three children were sent to an orphanage.  He died before he could get back home.  I received his death certificate from the Archives in Göttingen 3 days ago.  I have known this story my entire life but seeing it on an official document is very sobering and a bit surreal. Out of respect for my mother and her brothers I am not posting Theresia and Augusts’ death certificates.

Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis