Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Genealogy in the Court Room: State of Hawai'i v. Kuhia

This particular lawsuit involves a problem that I encounter regularly but in this case the issues have been carried to an extreme. Genealogists occasionally get "carried away" in pursuing an unobtainable objective. These objectives sometimes involve "proving" lineage to a specific ancestor in order to inherit property, join a lineage society or obtain affiliation or membership in a Native American reservation. Here is a summary of this case from the court ruling entitled as, State of Hawai'i, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Glenn Kealoha Kuhia, Defendant-Appellant.
Kuhia began actively pursing his Hawaiian genealogy after he learned about a quiet title action permitting the heirs of Mahu to claim an interest in land on Maui. In order to prove his right to intervene in that action, Kuhia embarked on a diligent search to document and prove his Hawaiian roots. Based on his research, Kuhia believed that he was not only an heir of Mahu, but also an heir of Queen Lili`uokalani. For reasons that are not clear, Kuhia's search for his genealogy also led him to believe that his father, whose death in 1960 had been classified as a suicide, had in fact been murdered. 
Kuhia's efforts to prove his Hawaiian genealogy and to assert his rights as a Native Hawaiian brought him into contact with State agencies established to assist Native Hawaiians, including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs 593*593 (OHA) and the Hawaiian Homes Commission (HHC). It was Kuhia's confrontations with persons employed by or working under contract for these agencies that led to the charges in this case.
At the present time, we have a similar, but less dramatic, situation in our own family lines where erstwhile researchers become convinced of the accuracy of their conclusions despite a complete lack of documentary support. No amount of reasoning or request for further documentation avails in convincing the researchers that their conclusions are unsupported and inaccurate. It seems easy to dismiss these false and unverified claims as the product of some mental aberration, but unfortunately, other uninformed researchers often side with the claimant due to the persistence of the researcher in asserting the false claims.

In this particular case, the claimant, Kuhia, was both violent and threatening.
On February 2, 1999, Kuhia went to OHA's offices. Kuhia became very angry after reading Kippen's letter, and threw the letter back at Kippen. Kuhia demanded that Kippen return original genealogical documents that Kuhia claimed to have given to OHA staff on previous occasions. Kippen knew it was OHA's policy to make a copy of any original document submitted and to return the original. He also checked with OHA staff members, who all stated that any original documents submitted by Kuhia had been copied and returned to him.

Kuhia was "very upset" and "very angry" when Kippen did not satisfy Kuhia's demand for the original documents. Kuhia yelled, swore, and directed racial epithets at an OHA staff member. Kippen walked away because he could not satisfy Kuhia's demand, and Kuhia called the police. The officers arrived and tried to convince Kuhia that the dispute over the records was a civil matter. However, when Kuhia refused to leave without the records, the police arrested Kuhia for trespassing. After the February 2, 1999 incident, OHA obtained a restraining order against Kuhia.[3]
In many of the similar situations I have encountered during my years of helping patrons in Mesa and Provo, the researcher/claimant alters the presentation of their claim in response to its rejection. The same researcher will attempt to convince someone else in the library that they are correct by presenting the "facts" in a way to attempt to overcome the rejection. In some instances, these people became generally known by all of the support staff and the researchers would watch until he or she spotted a "new" staff member to make the arguments again. Although, I have not had my life threatened, I have had patrons become indignant and angry with me because I did not immediately accept their unsupported conclusions.

The rest of the Kuhia case involves a long discussion of various legal issues regarding the appeal. However, the maintenance of false or unsupported genealogical claims is a real and continuing issue. In fact, as I have recently pointed out, almost every family line that I presently show in the Family Tree ends up with unsupported and fictitious ancestors.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

My Legacy of Refugees

Names (left to right). First row: Ove Oveson, George Jarvis, Ann Prior Jarvis, Sidney Tanner. Second row: Mayflower pilgrims Richard Warren, Francis Cooke, John Cooke; Rebecca Hill Pettit, Edwin Pettit, Archibald Newell Hill and son Samuel. Third row: Isabella Hood Hill, Samuel Shepherd and wife Charity, Adeline Springthorpe Thomas.

There is still a swirling controversy about refugees in the United States. My daughter, Amy, wrote a recent blog post on the subject for her blog, The Ancestor Files in a very short article entitled appropriately, "Refugees." As Amy points out, our ancestral family is fairly well populated with "refugees" according to any possible definition of the term. The most common definition is "a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster." Many of my own ancestors were forced to leave the United States of American and flee into the wilderness of Mexico. Ironically, through the military efforts of that same United States, they were then involuntarily annexed back into the United States.

As a result of their efforts to maintain their beliefs in the face continued religious persecution both officially and unofficially from the government of the United States, eventually, the United States government sent the largest contingency of armed troops in the then history of the United States to invade my ancestors' homes and confiscate their church-owned, religious property. Some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were then further forced to abandon the United States and once again, flee into Mexico. Because of the invasion of Utah by Federal troops, my Great-Great-grandfather's family was forced to flee from their farms in San Bernardino, California and re-settle in Beaver, Utah.

Of course, the suffering my own ancestors suffered at the hands of soldiers and officials of the United States included actual physical injury. My Great-great-great-grandfather while unarmed, was attacked by militia and severely hit in the head causing a major injury. Here is one account of the injury.
The mob had come up to Father Tanner in his wagon and Captain O'Dell had pointed his gun at him and pulled the trigger twice but it refused to go off. This enraged him, and with a fearful oath, he took hold of the muzzle and struck Elder Tanner over the head with the breech of the gun. This blow would probably have killed him had it not been for his heavy felt hat, the double thickness of which saved his life, but he had a large, ugly gash on his head which bled profusely. "His skull was laid bare to the width of a man's hand" above the temple, and "from the bleeding of his wounds he was besmeared from head to foot," and "the blood ran into his boots" according to various accounts (this incident was mentioned in several affidavits which the Saints wrote up of the wrongs which they had suffered in Missouri, and submitted to government officials. They emphasized Father Tanner's age, that he was an unarmed farmer simply returning home from the mill, and that he was hit over the head for no reason at all). "He was taken prisoner and held for two or three days, during which he wore his bloody clothes and refused (or was not allowed) to wash the blood from himself. He was allowed to keep his team and wagon, and the mob allowed him to go temporarily, on his word of honor, to take the body of a Brother Carey, who had been brutally killed by the mob, to his family."
If you had this family tradition, how sympathetic would you be towards those oppose assisting refugee or even forbidding them assistance and entry into the United States? My refugee ancestors were not just driven from the United States, they also came to America to escape persecution in England, Scotland, Wales and starvation in Ireland.

4 Million Views for Genealogy's Star

Every so often I pass another milestone. Sometime in the next 24 hours or so, this blog will pass 4 million views. This will put the total for all three blogs; Genealogy's Star, Rejoice, and be exceeding glad..., and WalkingArizona at just over 5.3 million views. That is a lot of reading. I am grateful for literacy in America and around the world. Who would have ever guessed that years ago when all this started I would have the stamina to keep writing? I can only wonder what might have been different in my life if I had started writing before my dotage?

Thanks to all the friends I have made over the years. Thanks to my family and especially my wife who has put up with writing at all times of the day and night. To answer the perennial question: I do sleep. I just sleep at odd hours sometimes and I listen to Bluegrass and Folk music most of the time mixed in with Bach.

Oh, by the way, there are now about 9,215 posts online. So a quick search on Google should bring up about 15,000 to 20,000 articles, posts, webinars, interviews, etc.

P.S. Genealogy is not a competition sport but photography sometimes is.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photo Discoveries on

This email from points out the new Photo Discoveries feature of the website. The Photo Discoveries are included in Instant Discoveries link on the menu bar.

If you click on a Photo Discovery option, you will get a selection of 10 photos to add to individuals in your family tree or ignore.

I can either leave all the items checked or select only the ones I want to keep and then click on the Add Photos to your tree button in the upper right-hand corner. The photos are then automatically added to each of the people tagged in the original photos.

Now, when I navigate to one of the people in my family tree, I see the new photo attached.

It is really as easy as that. Now, I see that I have 8 records that could be added to this individual.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Discovering Important Church Records at the Family History Library and the BYU Family History Library -- Part Three

The BYU Family History Library as a Resource for Church Records

Church records can be some of the most elusive records sought after by genealogists, so the importance of understanding the organization and record keeping practices of your ancestors' particular denomination should not be minimized. Even if you make the effort to understand when and where the church records may have been kept, you may still face restrictions on obtaining access, especially if you do not happen to share the same religious orientation of your ancestors. For example, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) often face opposition from religious record repositories based on a general misunderstanding of their beliefs concerning doing church ordinances for the deceased. See Temples.

Many important church records, however, have been preserved on microfilm, in books and manuscripts in major, genealogical record repositories where access is not limited by the researcher's religious affiliation or lack of affiliation. I have previously discussed how to find these records in the largest genealogical library in the world, the Family History Library, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, by using the Catalog.

As I have also written previously, Utah is home to the second largest genealogical record collection in the world, located in the Harold B. Lee Library's Family History Library (Lee Library) on the campus of the LDS Church sponsored, Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. Here is a screenshot of the web page for the BYU Family History Library.

The genealogical resources of the BYU Family History Library are not segregated from the rest of the collections in the vast Harold B. Lee Library, so access to the Library is governed by the University's overall academic schedule. As with any record repository, it is important to ascertain the availability of the collections including days and hours of operation and any restrictions on access. Consistent with other academic institutions in the United States, BYU operates on a semester basis and all of the school's libraries may be closed between semesters, during school vacations and to observe national and state holidays. The BYU Family History Library is not operated by FamilySearch as is the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It is part of the University and directed by University professors and their staff. There are a large number of LDS Church missionaries and volunteers, just as is the Library in Salt Lake City. But these missionaries and volunteers each have their own shift and schedule and if you need assistance in a particular area, such as research in church records, it is a good idea to contact the Library in advance of your planned visit as it the case with a visit to any other similar repository.

The Harold B. Lee Library (including the Family History Library) has a unified, online catalog. It is a non-circulating library except for university staff and students. This means that materials cannot be removed from the Library. However, the BYU Family History Library has extensive and very sophisticated copy and scanning equipment for free use by the public.

Some of the genealogically important books, microfilm and documents are concentrated in that portion of the Library identified as the "Family History Library," but the bulk of the genealogically important items are cataloged and scattered around the other Library collections and access to all the materials can occasion some rather extensive walking. Here is a screenshot of Level 2 (below ground level) where the BYU Family History Library is located.

The section containing the BYU Family History Library is called "Religion/Family History." Unfortunately, the maps do not give you an idea of the scale of the Library with its 98 miles of shelves.

Here is a screenshot of the initial search page of the Library catalog.

You begin your search by typing in your search terms in the blank field provided. There is an online Research Guide to assist you searching the Library.

The professional staff of the Library are very knowledgeable and helpful as are the volunteers and missionaries in the BYU Family History Library.

One of the most valuable resources is the extensive online web portal with hundreds of resources that are not duplicated at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. These resources are only available to patrons when using a Library computer while physically in the Library. Here is a screenshot of part of the list of websites available.

Searching in the BYU Family History Library Catalog

Finding specific information in a huge library such as the BYU Lee Library is a skill that is acquired through practice. Each library has its own unique advantages and limitations, but in every case, the basic skills needed are the same. Here are a few books on this subject.

Mann, Thomas. The Oxford Guide to Library Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Quillen, W. Daniel. Mastering Family, Library & Church Records. Cold Spring Harbor, NY; New York: Cold Spring Press ; Distributed by Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2012.
Swanborn, P. G. Research Methods: The Basics. The Hague: Boom Onderwijs, 2009.
Upson, Matt, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon. Information Now: A Graphic Guide to Student Research, 2015.

The basic Lee Library search can be expanded with a dropdown menu.

Here is an example of a search on "church records."

You can see that just this search resulted in 113,396 results. Obviously, you need to know some specific details about your ancestors to help narrow your searches. For example, some of my own ancestors lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s and were Presbyterians. Here is an example of a more focused search.

Even with these specific search terms, there are still over 500 results of items in the Library. In the example of my own ancestors, my Great-great-great-grandfather was buried in the Fourth Presbyterian Church Burial Ground in downtown Philadelphia. Another search for the "Fourth Presbyterian Church Philadelphia" has 1,131 results.

It may seem overwhelming to find that there are so many results, but the important part of library research is to continue looking and always assume that what you are looking for is there somewhere. In addition, once you have identified a book or other record that is "in the ballpark," that is somewhat related to your research objective, then it is time to get up and "walk the shelves." This means that you go to the area of the Library where the item or items are located and physically search through all of the books in that section of the Library for pertinent material. This may seem excessive, but it is the only way to be moderately sure that you have located everything in the Library. This technique is applicable to any repository or library anywhere that gives patrons access to the shelves.

The key to success in finding items in any Library and especially on as large as the BYU Harold B. Lee Library, is to keep looking and ask for help.

See the previous posts in this series.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Discovering Important Church Records at the Family History Library and the BYU Family History Library -- Part Two

The key to discovering church records in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is the online Catalog.

This is a screenshot of the menu bar on showing the dropdown menu with a link to the catalog and the following is a screenshot of the catalog page.

One important fact about the FamilySearch Catalog is that it incorporates items from a number of other locations around the world, including the Brigham Young University Family History Library. If you click on the link to "Search these family history centers" you will see the list. You can select a location for a specific search in that location. This list is quite extensive. 

Selecting an item from the list acts as a filter and shows only those items from the location selected. The BYU Family History Center is listed, but experience shows that the huge Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library Catalog which includes the BYU Family History Library is not entirely included in the Catalog, so searching the BYU Library catalog is still needed.

Searching in the Catalog is best accomplished by first searching for places. Genealogically valuable records are usually created at or near the place where an event in an ancestor's life occurs by someone who is either interested in the event or has a duty to record the event. Of course, after the record is created, it may have been moved and stored or preserved in a different location, but searches should always begin in the places where events occurred.

This rule about places also includes all of the jurisdictions where records may have been recorded. Records are created on a national (or even international) level such as national census records or in any record keeping jurisdiction down to the local and personal level. Church records are normally maintained at various levels also. Most church records originate at the local church or parish level, but, depending on the denomination, churches can also maintain centralized records.

For example, Catholic Church records of births (christenings or baptisms), confirmations, marriages, deaths, and burials are all kept at the local or parish level. Parishes are presided over by a Priest and may include one or more churches (cathedrals). Catholic parishes are organized into larger units called diocese which are presided over by a Bishop. Periodically, the Bishop or his representative reviews the parish registers and makes a copy of the records. These records are called Bishop's Transcripts. The parish records are usually maintained in the local church, but the Bishop's Transcripts are kept by the diocese.

Some of the Protestant churches, such as the Lutheran Church, follow the Catholic example of record keeping. But many denominations have a less structured record keeping practice. In the United States, many Protestant denominations are loosely organized with the individual congregations being semi-autonomous. In these cases, finding the records can be a major challenge.

The Catalog is organized to reflect the different levels of jurisdictions where the records may have been created, maintained and stored. So any search in the Catalog should begin either at the most general level, i.e. national or the most specific or local level. But all levels should be searched. Here is an example of a search for church records in Massachusetts.

First, begin your search by entering United States even if the events in your ancestor's life occurred betore there was a United States of America.

When you click the search button, you will get a list of the categories of all the records in the catalog that belong to this level of jurisdiction.

You will have to scroll down to see the whole list including the church records.

Depending on your particular needs, some of these records may be useful. The numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of records in each category. Remember, that as you drill down into the catalog, the records are not duplicated. If you fail to search at all levels in a given country, you may miss finding valuable records. At the top of the search list you can see a reference to "Places within the United States." Clicking on this link shows a list of all of the states in the United States.

If you select Massachusetts, then you get the list of categories of records available for that state.

Here is the section about church records.

Here is an example of the records listed in the "Church records (24)" category.

You will also see a link at the top of this entire list to "Places within United States, Massachusetts."

You can continue your search for additional records at the county and local level. Here is a screenshot of some of the records from Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

But remember that you can also search for places within Middlesex County.

Here is a screenshot of the list of records for Lowell, Massachusetts.

These examples point out the need to research the exact locations of events in an ancestor's life as well as identifying the ancestor's religious denomination. Otherwise, you will face the almost impossible task of searching every record that is available for the time period in which the events occurred.

Finally, if you select a record to view, you will see this type of entry.

This screen gives information about the particular record and its availability. In this case, the record is only available in microfilm format from the Family History Library. Microfilm can still be ordered online and delivered to a Family History Center near the person requesting the microfilm. But note that microfilm is quickly becoming an outdated technology and at some point, all of these records will be available online in digitized format. Here is an example of a digitized record.

Here is a further example of how the record appears.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

See the previous post in this series.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My DNA: What have we learned so far?

Some time ago, I ordered a DNA Test from In the middle of the RootsTech 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, I received the results. I wrote a blog post about the rough results in a blog post entitled, "My DNA TEST RESULTS are in." The rough results are as follows:
  • British and Irish 87.0%
  • Scandinavian 9.3%
  • Ashkenazi Jewish 2.5%
  • South Asia 1.2%
I have now sent these results out to my children and gotten some initial responses. To understand a little about our family, you need to know that we have 5 Ph.ds, and the rest of my children and their spouses are all capable. professional level researchers. Several of them are also deeply involved in genealogical research. 

There is absolutely no controversy about the British and Irish or Scandinavian. Most of my family lines trace back to England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Some go back into the 1600s in America. There are two Scandinavian lines in Demark. All of this is well documented. This leaves the small percentages of Ashkenazi Jewish and South Asia.

The Ashkenazi Jewish line is also easily resolved. I have a Great-great-grandfather named, Charles Godfrey DeFriez who changed his surname to Jarvis when he came to America. DeFriez is a Jewish name and some of the ancestors in this line have the following given names:
  • Marcus Mordecai Jacob
  • Serche Eizik
  • Machteld Machieltje Jacob
Now, I had been waiting to do some research on this family line due to the lack of positive information that they were Jewish, now I can begin to document this line. By the way, none of my children disagree that this our Jewish line. One of the interesting observations sent to me by one of my daughters is the following:
There are two major subgroups of Judaism: Ashkenazi and Sephardic. Generally speaking, the Ashkenazi are from Germany and Eastern Europe and speak Yiddish and Hebrew, while the Sephardic Jews are from further south and speak Ladino and Hebrew. A bit of googling finds a number of features associated with Ashkenazi heritage: high IQ, essential tremor, and hearing loss and deafness. Fortunately, the severe genetic diseases associated with Ashkenazi heritage were not passed down in the family, including Tay-Sachs.
I managed to inherit all of the above features (except, perhaps, the high IQ). 

The South Asia connection is more problematic and has engendered a considerable amount of discussion. There are a number of possibilities:
  • One of our English or Dutch ancestors married an Indian woman during the time when England or the Netherlands were in India. This would seem to be hard to determine and not very likely.
  • Given the percentage, it appears that one of our family lines may be Romani (Roma). We have one line that has this as a distinct possibility. 
The important thing to remember here is that without the extensive genealogical research we have already done (i.e. paper research), these connections would be an absolute mystery. 

If we make any progress in solving these issues, I will write more on the subject. 

MyHeritage Appoints Dr. Yaniv Erlich as Chief Science Officer

MyHeritage intends to remain at the cutting edge of technology as evidenced by the following press release. I am reproducing the entire press release in this case because I don't think that any summary I could give would do justice to the information contained here.
MyHeritage Appoints Prominent DNA Expert Dr. Yaniv Erlich as Chief Science Officer 
TEL AVIV, Israel & LEHI, Utah , February 9, 2017 – MyHeritage, the leading international family history and DNA company, announced today the appointment of Dr. Yaniv Erlich as its Chief Science Officer. Dr. Erlich, a DNA scientist of world renown, will lead scientific development and strategy forMyHeritage DNA, the company's newly established DNA service for family history and ethnicity, and ensure that its products are built on a solid scientific foundation.

Dr. Erlich, nicknamed the Genome Hacker by Nature journal, brings to MyHeritage unparalleled experience in the field of genomics as Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computational Biology at Columbia University and as a Core Member at the New York Genome Center. He is also the former principal investigator and a Whitehead Fellow at MIT's Whitehead Institute, founder of DNA.LAND and the principal investigator of the Erlich DNA lab. 
Dr. Erlich completed his Ph.D. at the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 2010, and has won numerous awards as a cutting-edge scientist, including the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award (2013), the Harold M. Weintraub Award (2010) and the IEEE/ACM-CS High Performance Computing Award (2008). Dr. Erlich has a B.Sc. degree cum laude in Neuroscience from Tel Aviv University. 
Dr. Erlich's research interests are diverse and cover many facets of computational human genetics, including population studies, DNA privacy, DNA storage and genetic research in crowd-sourced family trees. 
“We're delighted to welcome Yaniv to our management team. Yaniv's expertise in computational genetics and its synergy with family history will provide the solid scientific foundation that is fundamental for setting apart our fast-growing DNA service from the others” said MyHeritage Founder and CEO Gilad Japhet. “We are committed to providing our users with the most accurate DNA results, and helping them understand more about themselves. Yaniv will lead a dedicated team of world-class scientists to help us achieve this.”

“I’m excited to join the talented team at MyHeritage and put my scientific experience to use by the millions of users on the MyHeritage platform,” said Dr. Erlich. “I've collaborated with MyHeritage since 2012 and have known them to be forward thinkers about building tools and platforms that enable massive scale scientific studies. I look forward to opening new horizons in consumer genetics in my new role, and further empowering our users with useful and creative tools that harness the latest scientific discoveries." 
MyHeritage DNA was launched in November 2016, offering simple DNA home-testing kits for determining users' ethnic origins and discovering new relatives. The service is offered in more than 190 countries worldwide, in 42 languages.

About MyHeritage 
MyHeritage is the leading global destination for family history and DNA. As technology thought leaders, MyHeritage has transformed family history into an activity that is accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive library of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees and groundbreaking search and matching technologies. Through MyHeritage DNA, the company offers technologically advanced, affordable DNA tests that reveal users' ethnic origins and previously unknown relatives. Trusted by millions of families, MyHeritage provides an easy way to find new family members, discover ethnic origins, and to share family stories, past and present, and to treasure them for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 42 languages.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Goodbye Until Next Year: RootsTech 2017

I was there at RootsTech 2017. It is sad that I hardly had time to talk to everyone. RootsTech is a great place to see old friends and make new ones. I was so busy presenting at The Family History Guide booth that I had to make a real effort to "make the rounds" and say hello to all those I would have liked to talk to. I certainly enjoyed presenting twice for I also enjoyed seeing and talking to all those who made an effort to find me and say hello. I was gratified to see my friends at and Louis Kessler with his Double Match Triangulator were both able to be finalists and win prizes. It was also nice to have my new friend, Tony Knight, also win a prize with QromaTag

I really enjoyed working with The Family History Guide and got a bonus when the website was officially selected as a FamilySearch Training Partner during the Conference. also made two major announcements during the Conference: Tree Correct and Photo Match. I will have a lot more to say about both as time goes on. announced their new collections of Catholic Church records from the United States. This is a great benefit to genealogists from the United States and all those who are related. I also had a good visit with the team from and their new Trees program that connects to the Family Tree with connections coming soon to and In the near future, I will be highlighting some of the other wonderful programs and apps that I saw at

It is too bad that I got so sick on the last day but it all ended well and I am grateful for all the opportunities to visit with all those who took the time to say hello. 

Consistency Checker added to MyHeritage online family trees

This past week at #RootsTech 2017, I had an opportunity to view the new Tree Checker or Consistency Checker from This new feature is already available to all those with family trees on the program. Here is the description from the announcement from the MyHeritage Blog.
The Consistency Checker employs 36 different checks on the family tree data, ranging from the obvious (e.g., a person was born before their parent, or when the parent was too young to be a parent) to the subtle and hard to find (e.g., a person was tagged in a photo and the photo is dated before the person’s birth; or two full siblings were born 5 months apart, which is impossible). Some of the issues it finds are factual mistakes (e.g. wrong birth date entered), some are bad practices (e.g. birth year entered as 22 instead of 1922, or prefix entered as part of the first name instead of in the prefix field), some are warnings about possible data entry errors (e.g. a woman’s married surname was apparently entered as her maiden surname, or a place was entered that looks suspiciously like a date) and some are inconsistencies you may want to fix, such as references to the same place name with two different spellings. Any issue you feel is fine and should intentionally not be addressed can easily be marked to be ignored and will not be reported again.
Consistency and correctness is a major issue with online family trees and this issue has been partially addressed by the Family Tree, but the errors captured are limited. When my own family tree was run through the Tree Checker, I had over 700 errors. It looks like I have a lot of work cut out for me.

This is a major reason to start using as a family tree program.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reflections on #RootsTech 2017

Elly Carter won in the holiday category with her spooky house. Carter’s cake was also the people’s choice winner, which was selected by RootsTech attendee. The prize was a Thermador range and dishwasher donated by Orson Gygi.

RootsTech 2017 ended with a cake contest and a concert by Vocal Point and Noteworthy from Brigham Young University. Unfortunately, by the time it ended, I had become quite ill with a bout of asthma. It may take a few days to recuperate. The weather was, for the most part, lovely except for one bout of rain and snow. But what about the Conference itself?

I reflected on the changes that have occurred over the years. The idea for a conference such as RootsTech grew from the original BYU Annual Computerized Genealogy Conference which began in 1998. Quoting from Wikipedia about the evolution of the conference:
Over the years, other events were organized to be held a day or two before this annual conference to take advantage of the attendance of exhibitors and developers from around the world. This included the Family History Technology Workshop[1] which displayed and discussed developments in technology for genealogists and the FamilySearch Developers Conference. In 2008, the LDS Church's Family History Department became co-sponsor of these events and the search began for a new venue. The 2010 National Genealogical Society Conference was scheduled to be held in Salt Lake City. With cooperation from the local Salt Lake City NGS sponsor, the Utah Genealogical Association, the Family History Technology Workshop, and the FamilySearch Developers Conference, the Computerized Genealogy Conference organizers met with NGS and proposed a combined NGS conference and Computerized Genealogy Conference, which was held in April 2010. The event was highly successful, and led to plans to move the Computerized Genealogy Conference to Salt Lake City for future events. The name of the conference was changed to RootsTech. [Notes and links included]
This is where I came on the scene. The first RootsTech Conference was held in February of 2011 and had an attendance of about 3000 people, many of whom were employees of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and given the day off to come to the Conference. I was given the opportunity to attend the first Conference and every subsequent conference as a blogger and a member of the "Media." I have attended all seven conferences.

The first few conferences were rather low-key events and the keynote speakers were predominantly the Directors or CEOs or other designated representatives of the prominent organizations. Over the years the Conference has become more eclectic with a decided shift towards popular entertainment and special events only loosely related to genealogy or technology. One comment that I heard is that perhaps there ought to be a "Family" oriented conference that included genealogy. My observation from the classes for the Innovators Summit was that they were are directed towards start-up business opportunities and financing rather than technology i.e. hardware, programming, and programs. 

I am sure we will see many more changes in the RootsTech Conference in the future. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Findmypast adds millions of records of Catholics in America

One of the uphill challenges of genealogical researchers is locating and gaining access to older church records in the United States. Usually, the records, if they exist, are scattered all over and access is dependent on the minister or priest who has custody of the records. has taken a gigantic step in overcoming those obstacles with the addition of its Catholic Heritage Archive.

Here is a quote from the blog post referenced above:
Findmypast has launched a ground breaking initiative to digitize the historic records of the Catholic Church. Last year we published the Irish records, and this year we commence publishing all the historic sacramental registers for England, Scotland and the USA. It's a big task, make no mistake! There are over 30 million records just for the Archdioceses of Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore, our first three US Dioceses. There even more for all of Britain. There are hundreds of millions of records for the USA alone.
I will be watching this archive as it grows. This is a great breakthrough in record availability for all of the users of

The Cake Boss at #RootsTech 2017

From the RootsTech 2017 website:
Buddy Valastro 
For New York Times best-selling author Buddy Valastro, mixing eggs, sugar, butter and flour means a lot more than “making a cake.” As a fourth generation baker, it’s a constant source of pleasure, pride and creativity. Creating amazing cakes connects Buddy with the memory of his father Buddy Sr. and his extended Italian family history. His talent and passion for the family business, Carlo’s Bakery, has earned the straight-talking cake expert the moniker, and TLC TV show, Cake Boss. 
For this best-selling author, cake expert, and successful businessman, family is a top priority. When Buddy was 11, he began working at the family bakery alongside his father. “My dad was my best friend and idol, anything to spend more time with him was important.” In the precious years they worked together as a father and son team, his dad passed on his wealth of baking knowledge and instilled in him a cast iron business sense and a drive for success. Now a father himself to a daughter and three sons, Buddy continues to pass on Valastro family traditions.
He is a very sincere and eloquent speaker. He told stories about his family. If you have missed any of the sessions, you can view them on the website.

#RootsTech 2017 in Brief: Notes from the Conference -- #17

Ce Ce Moore is the featured Keynote speaker. She talks about the connection between biological relationships and the memories carried down into family memories. People have a lot in common that comes from their DNA inheritance. The Keynote talks will be on the RootsTech 2017.  You can read more on Ce Ce Moore's blog, Your Genetic Genealogist.

#RootsTech 2017 in Brief: Notes from the Conference -- #16

This is the last day of RootsTech 2017. The first keynote speaker is Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry's emphasis is on DNA. Tim speaks about the investigations made by into migration and communities. The number of genetic communities will increase as the number of DNA tests are included in the database.

The rest of the Keynote was directed at food and family recipes. I have mentioned that when I married into the Wessman family, I got the bonus of generations of food experiences and recipes. You can see some of these recipes on our food blog: Family Heritage Recipes.

Today is Family Discovery Day starting in the afternoon. Along with a lineup of leaders and celebrities there is a cake decorating contest.

MY DNA update

I will be commenting on the DNA matches from my recent results from My wife also sent in a DNA sample so we may see if we are really related. Also, we both purchased DNA kits from at the RootsTech 2017 Conference, so those results should show up some time as soon as we get a chance to send them in. It will be interesting to compare the two different tests' results.

OldNews USA Wins Top Honors at RootsTech 2017 Innovator Showdown

Here is a quote from the announcement of the winners.
Old news, it seems, is actually “new” news. Very innovative news in fact. Today at RootsTech, the world’s largest family history technology conference, OldNews USA took top honors in the 2017 Innovator Showdown, walking away with $95,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. OldNews is an android app designed to help users quickly discover their family in historical US newspapers. The app uses the Library of Congress “Chronicling America” collection of more than 11 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1922 to deliver its results.
From comments made after the decision, it seems that there was a bit of controversy over the judge's statements during the judging and how the final decision was reached. Here are the rest of the results.
2017 RootsTech Showdown Winners
  • First Place Judges’ Choice ($90,000 cash, AWS credits, and an investment from Kickstart Seed Fund), Bill Nelson of OldNews USA.
  • Second Place Judges’ Choice ($44,000 cash and AWS credits), The Qroma tag mobile app for embedding stories into pictures, tagging them by voice commands, and making the data accessible on various platforms.
  • Third Place Judges’ Choice Award ($26,000 cash and AWS credits), Louis Kessler, Double Match Triangulator, an app to help sort DNA matches into groups of relatives.
  • People’s Choice ($25,000 cash and AWS credits), Kindex, an app designed to help users create searchable, shareable archives of family letters and other documents using tags to help users easily locate information.
Emberall was the other finalist. It provides a method to capture and store pictures and videos creating an accessible archive.
I will be featuring each of the contestants in future blog posts.

#RootsTech 2017 in Brief: Notes from the Conference -- #15

RootsTech Day in Review: Celebrating African Heritage Day

Friday's Keynote presentation was easily one of the best, if not the best events in #RootsTech history. Here is an outstanding video on the events of the day.

More to come today.

#RootsTech 2017 in Brief: Notes from the Conference -- #14

Quoting from today's email announcement:
President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy Watson Nelson, will keynote the general session. Other popular LDS speakers include: Deseret Book CEO, Sheri Dew; former NFL football player and current newscaster, Vai Sikahema; BYU football running backs coach, Reno Mahe; and BYU professor of religion, Hank Smith.
I will probably be in the Exhibit Hall during the entire day presenting at The Family History Guide Booth and at the booth.  But you can see the entire schedule on the #RootsTech website.

Photo Discoveries comes to MyHeritage (#13)

#RootsTech is always an exciting and information packed event for me and the rest of the genealogical community. It is also so busy that I seldom have time to write about all the things I learn. I have two choices. I can write and not talk or I can talk and not write. I choose to talk. Here is one of the most dramatic announcements of the entire conference from
Today, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of Photo Discoveries™, an exciting new feature unique to MyHeritage that fulfills this goal. Photo Discoveries makes it easy for you to add photographs to people in your family tree who currently do not have any photos, in just a few clicks, based on the work of other users. Many of us cherish the emotional moment when we see for the first time a photograph of our ancestor or relative whom we’ve never seen before. Photo Discoveries can make those special moments happen for you too! Even experienced genealogists are in for a treat.
 I will have a lot more to say about this when it appears in the website. But for more information, go to "Introducing Photo Discoveries™" Remember, has over 200 million photographs online from around the world.

Friday, February 10, 2017

#RootsTech 2017 in Brief: Notes from the Conference -- #12

Back to the Keynotes for another daily adventure at RootTech 2017. I had so share the results of my DNA test from with some of my fellow bloggers. Today is African-American Day and there are a lot of events planned. I will be presenting at both The Family History Guide Booth and at the booth. We should find out today about the winners in the Innovator Showdown and much more.

Watch the sessions live on