Monday, February 16, 2015

Black History Month Event at the Toledo Public Library

Please join us for this upcoming eve4nt at the Toledo Public Library celebrating Black History Month.

Location- Toledo Public Library- McMaster Center= 325 Michigan St., Toledo, OH

Date- Saturday, 28 February 2015

Time- 1- 4 pm.

Topic- The Great Migration: Mapping your History


D. Willie L McKether, Asst. Prof of Anthropology at the University of Toledo will explain the event in American History popularly called "The Great Migration" which took place in the first half of the 20th century, when millions of African americans moved from the rural South to the urban North and West.

Journey Genealogy Group addresses specific challenges African Americans face when researching their roots.

Donna Christian of the Library's Local History Department will discuss resources that are available including genealogical databases.

Hope to see you there. For more information check out our website at

Friday, February 13, 2015

Challenges with my genealogy

Was thinking the other day on what some of the challenges are that I face when conducting my research on my own family. Thought I would share some of these thoughts.

The biggest one is time. Sure I can do a lot of it online at night, but I find that a lot of the clues to my brick walls are offline. This means travel. So more and more I depend on the Internet. It is a wonderful thing this Internet and the constant upgrade of new sources. It amazes me that sites like Family Search and Ancestry add millions of records every week. The ability to access new records that I may never found the old way are now so much easier. Take for example the Catholic church records that I am able to access for Toledo. Just amazes me. I don't know about you, but when you can limit the human factor sometimes it makes the process of doing research much easier. One of these days I will make the travel to do the offline.

Another challenge is how to go about doing online research correctly. With all the information online if you don't come up with a research plan first it is very easy to wander. Forcing myself to make a research plan first is very difficult. It must be done. Knowing what records you have looked at previously helps you identify new ones to research. Old databases are even being updated. Important to know the date you last used the database.

Software for me can also be a challenge. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on this element of my research, but I still struggle with it. Constantly having to update programs I find confusing. Knowing the ins and outs of the programs are so important. Dealing with some of the bells and whistles in the programs also can be confusing. Some programs are set up to search the internet to provide clues in your research. I have yet to find one that comes back with solid information. Software and technology related to genealogy is changing on a daily basis.

Finally the shear volume of the data and information related to genealogy on the Internet can be overwhelming. You have blogs, message boards, groups, etc etc. Which ones really bring you the information you need? I am a big believer in keeping it simple, but with the Internet this can be a challenge.

Would love to hear some of your thoughts on the challenges. As always don't forget to click. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Understanding all the resources

Yesterday I had some free time and decided to do some research on my own family. For a long time I have had a line in my family with the surname Geller that has been a tough one to trace back. I decided that I need to take a look at what I had researched in the past and take a look at records that were new. What I did follows.

The primary person that I was doing research on was Albert Geller who lived in Toledo, Lucas, Ohio from about 1870 until his death in 1898. My early research had indicated he was born in Albany, New York in 1848. Previously I had done research primarily using Census records and was unable to identify a possible family in this area. The reason for my research in Albany was the stories I was told as a child. I had to look at it from a different angle.

My first step was to look at records that I had not used before, but were on the Internet. Research for me always starts on Family Search. I went to the collections for Ohio and looked at what was new that I have not researched before. In my case it was the Catholic diocese records in Toledo. These records have to be looked at page by page. It is not in the search database. Using Google Maps to determine the nearest Catholic Church in the area I was able to determine that St Mary's was just down the street. I also knew that Cavalry was the Catholic cemetery in the time frame I was looking for Albert.

My family is not Catholic, but I felt it was a strong possibility since Albert's wife was French. Through this search I was able to find their interment records in Calvary and death records at St Mary's. The death records gave me a clue to his mothers name which was Julianae. This led me in a different direction.

Checked City Directories on Ancestry to determine if other Geller's were living in the area close to Albert. I was able to find a Joseph. This led me to a census search. Found a Joseph living in Monroe Co., Michigan. In a family unit led by Adam with a wife Julianne. This would confirm a clue I had on Albert that said he was born in Michigan. This was listed in Church records. This was a major break through for me. Joseph listed left Toledo at the time that another Joseph born in Monroe County moved to Wayne County. My Albert fits into this family group time wise.

Needles to say I need to do more research. This is a lesson for me to look at all the resources and the Internet is always changing. We all should be evaluating what we have looked at and what is new. The Internet is a fabulous thing for our research.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What do you find to be the biggest challenge when doing your genealogy?

Recently I got the ideas to post a survey on both Facebook and Google+ asking the above question. In this survey you had to select five ideas and see how they rated. Over the next few days I will be talking about the results.

The highest response of the ideas given was that most people found it challenging to locate the records that they are looking for on their family. As we all know finding records of any kind can be a challenge and frustrating process when researching our ancestors. A couple things came to mind that hurts us when locating records.

First one would be the lack of preparation when trying to resolve a problem. Many times we look at our brick walls with blinders on. We don't formulate a plan on how to tackle the problem. When I first started doing my genealogy I had this problem as well. Slowly though I figured out there had to be a better way. I started putting together a timeline that included in chronological order of all the information that I knew about a particular person. For me this allows me to see the gaps in my research. Then I needed to do some homework. Where had I not looked before? What records should I use to solve this problem? What are some of the limitations I might have with finding the record or information I seek? Once I was able to answer these questions I would make a list of sources I should consult. This list I would keep to make sure in the future I did not complete double work. This is a constant and ongoing process that needs to be updated. This is called a research plan. In my own situation I keep a sheet in each of my family groups so I can consult it when I go back to trying to resolve that particular challenge.

After administering on various genealogy websites for over five years I have fielded hundreds of questions that relate to record location. Why can't I find my ggrandfathers birth certificate for 1832? Why don't they have probate? They always spelled their name this way. You know what I mean. A lot of these questions can be answered by simply doing your homework or heaven forbid ask someone. The Internet and the numerous message boards make this process very easy. Even I ask questions when I don't know, which is often.

The final thought I have about the challenge of locating the records by many genealogist is the idea that if it is not on the internet it does not exist. This is wrong. Majority of records even today are still off line. The answers to our families questions still lie in the libraries, archives and genealogical societies that have been keeping these records well before the internet. One of the large challenges is getting the records online and available. This takes humans. Computers still do not have the ability to read handwriting and typing. Some day, but now. If you don't do more offline research you are cheating yourself.

So my suggestion on the locating of records is simple. Do your homework. Check your past research. Make a list of new possible resources. Don't assume you have looked everywhere. Ask someone that may be more knowledgeable in the area you are searching. Understand that it is not done in a few hours. Mine has taken over 30 years. Make sure to do offline research, because it is not all on the Internet.

More tomorrow. Make sure to click.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Using Ancestry DNA- Buyer beware

Thought some would find this post interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

the best place for Genealogy and DNA research is?

This will be our final installment on DNA and it's use in Genealogy. I find this subject fascinating and seems to be changing constantly. I hope in some small way that I have helped your reach a better understanding or at least helped you in deciding on having your DNA testing done.

It is my feeling that the best testing is to complete a surname study with people that share the same surname or variation to your surname. This will clear up a lot of your research by showing you the patterns that other people have with their DNA and having the ability to compare the genealogy work that has been completed. When starting this type of testing make sure to decide what you are trying to learn. Example would be determine the relationship of all the Davey's in the world or just the Davey's that lived in Michigan.

Second item is to identify the test center to complete this test. This is where you will want to do your homework on all the companies out there that are offering this service. Many of the test services will help with coordinating the Surname studies. This is a big plus.

Next you will need to gather a group of like minded people that have indicated some interest in the surname you are seeking information on. A great place to get people of interest is the many Surname message boards on the Internet. This will give you a great pool of candidates for the study.

Once the people start to submit their DNA tests you will need to coordinate it. Biggest thing to do is keep others aware of what's going on with the project. A great way to accomplish this is to create a mailing list or website to communicate. Finally respect other's privacy.

Next week I will be writing about a recent survey that I conducted and found fascinating. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

How do I understand the results of mtDNA testing?

Now to explain some ideas on understanding your test results of your mtDNA. These should also help in deciding what test to take.

Test occurs in two separate areas of your mothers DNA. The two testing areas are known as Hyper Variable Region 1 and Hyper Variable region 2. These both tests are then compared to what is known as the “Cambridge Reference Sequence”. The differences of the two are what is used in this test. The results will allow two different persons to identify a common ancestor, but this could go back as far as 1000 years. (You do the math)That's a lot of people. The second result may identify potential family groups as well as ethnic origins.

Tomorrow I will talk about what is best for our genealogies. Remember to click.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How do I understand the results from my Y chromosome testing?

The results from your Y chromosome testing can be very confusing. Understanding the information to help you with your research is a challenge. Here are some thoughts on results.

In order for the test to identify similarities to other results it will identify the number of times you hit common markers and determine the number of times they repeat. These markers are what is known as short random markers. This provides the road map to identification of similarities with data that has been collected. The more markers you are able to identify the better chances you will have to identifying a individual or similar ancestral line. The difference in a 12 marker test is 50% probability in a 14 generation test. The difference between a 21 marker test is 50 % probability in the last 8 generations. Testing results tend to taper off the higher you go on markers. Some testing groups offer 37 and 67 marker testing, but costs go up dramatically without much bang for your buck.

Hope this is helping. Will be getting on to different topics real soon. Make sure to check out the surveys I am doing on Facebook and Google+. Real interesting results. Don't forget to click.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What can I learn from my DNA results?

Now I will write about somethings that you will need to deal with once you get the results of your testing. This often times can be a major challenge to our understanding.

The primary thing to understand is the results do not tell you a lot on their own. It is only when you compare it to other data that you get a understanding of your information. The key is comparing it to other peoples data and the various ethnic groups. In order to maximize the benefit from the testing you need to get other known family members to participate as well. If you are not able to do this you are comparing your results to a large database where depending on the people that have submitted you might not get a lot of information. You are only able to compare to other people in the database if they have agreed to share. Don't always expect to get a clear picture.

It's nice to be back. Yesterday was hectic with a household full of kids. As always please support my advertisers with a click.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Day

I have a house full of children today and will not have time for writing. Back to DNA in the AM.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What are my goals with DNA testing?

Like any thing in life we need to think about what we are doing and come up with a plan. Same thing with doing DNA testing. Establish what your are looking to achieve out of the process.

In my own research I am always interested in learning more about my primary surname Davey. Identifying if the Davey's in Van Buren County, Michigan are related to the families in Richland County, Ohio and then finally the Davey's in Bridgewater, Somerset, England. This type of test would take a great deal of planning. I would need to identify candidates to participate in the tests from those areas. Then get them to agree to participate. A very large task.

Another test would be to determine if all the Davey's in Michigan are related. Again a large pool of people, but is it worth it?

This process does not make the process easier. Average person submits their sample to the DNA lab of their choice and waits for the results. This can be frustrating, because again it is all based on the pool of DNA testing that has been done before. Select your DNA tester wisely. Do your homework.

Next week we will be winding up the talk on the use of DNA in our Genealogy journey. Please help support my advertisers and have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Return on Friday.

Will be back on Friday with more on DNA.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What will I learn by doing my DNA testing?

Before you start the process of ordering your test kit you need to determine what you are trying to achieve by doing the test. There are a few things to consider.

Determine if you are actually related to a person you think you are related to. More than likely you have identified someone from documented research that you feel you are related to and want to make sure. DNA will help you prove the fact that people that share the same surname are actually related. The test will help you identify ethnic origins better and connect you to large population groups. You need to understand that the results are only as good as the body of data you are comparing your results. Larger body of data better chance for accurate results.

Please leave your comments and be sure to support my advertisers. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What are the limitations of DNA testing?

One of the biggest things to understand is that DNA testing in any form is not the Holy Grail of Genealogy research. You will still have to go through the steps of confirming the data by doing your documented genealogy research. In this blog I will outline some of the other limitations of the research.

The mt and y testing are only good for females and males respectively. Identifiers in DNA testing identify information for either the female or male moving backwards. Not both. Only two grandparents apply to this testing out of the eight that you have. The information is for your father's paternal grandfather and your mother's maternal grandmother. In order to get a broader representation of your families DNA you will have to recruit uncles, aunts and cousins to participate in the study to complete the DNA of the other six lines. In order for the women to identify her Y chromosome lineage they will have to get their father and brothers tested to learn about the paternal line.

DNA testing is a great and unique tool in genealogy, but it does not give a complete picture. You will still have a lot of gray areas. Working to get a complete DNA picture takes a lot of coordination and a large enough pool of living people that are willing to participate. You will have to way the benefits.

Hopefully this is helping in some small way. Please leave your comments and support my advertisers. Check in tomorrow for more on using DNA in your Genealogy research.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Using Y DNA in your genealogy research

The next type of DNA testing that can be done is Y-DNA. I hope that folks are getting better understanding of DNA and the various types of testing that can be used.

Y-DNA is used to determine your direct paternal family line. This type of testing can only be used by the male members of the family. Primary component of the testing is the Y chromosome and this is only passed down from generation to generation by the males. Distinctive markers in the Y chromosome identify specific family lineages. Excellent test to determine if two males are related. Goes back several generations. Common test to determine if two males share a common ancestor.

Thank you again for the views and please support the advertisers on this site that make it possible. It was pointed out to me that not everyone is able to comment. Please comment to me directly via my email if necessary.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Using mtDNA- Part 3

Sorry for the delay yesterday. Some days I just don't feel well enough to put a good effort together with my writing. Committed to doing my best with the blog.

Now back to the explanation of using DNA testing in our research. The next type of DNA testing is known as mtDNA. This testing helps you identify information in your maternal family line. Testing can be done for both females and males. This particular type of DNA is passed to sons and daughters, but can only reveal data on the female side of your lineage. The important factor here is that DNA is passed from the mother to the son, but can not be passed on to the next generation through the son.

If you follow me on Facebook you will notice recently I have been posting a increased amount of information on DNA research and it's use to genealogy. Hope this helps and if you are not connected to me drop me a line. As always please help me by supporting and clicking on my sponsors.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Not feeling 100% today will be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Types of Testing- Autosomal DNA Part 3

Now we will discuss the various types of tests that can be completed and determine which one best fits what you are trying to understand. It is critical at this stage that you select the test method that best identifies what you are trying to learn.

The first test method is known as Autosomal DNA. This test can be done for both male and female lines. This tests for over 700,000+ markers on both the maternal and paternal lines. Identifies ethnicity and potential family lines that closely parallel your test results. Excellent test for identifying cousins. Testing will give you accurate results going back five to seven generations. Allows you to connect to the living as well as the dead.

This particular test will be good for validating you lineages as well as identifying if you are related to other living persons in the same line. Key here is having other potential candidates participate with you or others that have done it in the past.

Tomorrow I will be writing about another form of DNA testing. I try to keep the descriptions simple, because it can get very scientific.

Please ask any questions you have and I will attempt to answer them. As always your clicks on the advertisers are appreciated.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What can DNA prove to the Genealogist? Part 2

The biggest thing to understand is that DNA testing is not going to give you a detailed map of your families past. It gives you a outline with many gaps. You will still have to go through the process of researching and documenting your families history. Many people find this to be a disappointment, because they were hoping for a easier way to do their family history.

The DNA testing allows you to confirm if two people are related. This has become popular with TV shows and confirming who's the daddy. It also allows you to determine if two people descend from the same ancestor back in time. The test validates the quality of your research and will point you in the correct direction to do your research moving forward. It also allows you to determine if you are related to people that share the same surname. It will also give you clues on your families ethnic origins. Understand with this part of the testing it will improve as the DNA databases increase in size. Larger data bases will make things more accurate.

DNA testing has been around enough to work out the bugs and improve the accuracy of the testing. Growth in DNA testing has increased as they are able to bring down the costs of actually doing the testing. Costs now have moved to below $100 dollars for testing. This has helped testing to expand.

The test itself comes with a home kit that consists of swab and spit collection tube that are used to collect the sample. Collection is done by swabbing the inside of your mouth and inserting it in the collection tube. Then it is put in a return package and mailed to the test facility.

The results come back as numbers and this allows you to compare it to others that have taken the test.

More will be expanded on all these subjects as I work through the articles. Please remember to click on the advertisers. Your support is appreciated.

As always please leave your comments.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Using DNA in your Genealogy research- Part 1

So have you thought about using DNA to do your family search? Do you see it as a quick solution to doing your research? Are there parts of it that you just do not get? Well for the next few days I will attempt to explain where DNA testing fits into our genealogy journey.

DNA became popular primarily due to high profile court cases where it was used to convict persons. As a tool for this type of work it works very well. Identifying a close relationship or owner of DNA is excellent as long as you have identified samples.

A variety of new processes have been developed with the genealogist in mind. The key here is to identify the one that most closely identifies the results or clues that you are looking for with your research. The bad news is you will still have to do your genealogy research.

The fascinating thing about DNA is that it stays relatively the same from generation to generation for 100's of years. The bad part is that it does not identify the individuals by name that share the DNA. It will identify one person back in time as long as other's have provided their DNA to match that person. The process takes many people to identify the trail along with solid genealogy.

As the databases get larger the results achieved with DNA testing will become better. We have only been using this as a genealogy tool for less than ten years.

Tomorrow I will talk in more detail what DNA can prove to the genealogist and what to expect. Please ask questions and I will attempt to answer them at the end of my writing on this subject.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Upcoming topics

Well things have gone well for the first to posts this year. Key here will be to keep things informative and timely. I am always looking for topics that appeal to you the reader. Please post me a comment on a subject that you are looking for further information. Would love to do the research on the subject and write about it. I have a variety of topics to come, but I look forward to your input.

Have a great weekend and see you on Monday. The first topic will be using DNA as a genealogy tool.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Plans for 2015

Still having a hard time thinking it is 2015. Planning on have having many things continue from 2014 and start up some new things moving forward.

The first thing that I will be continuing is taking on new projects with clients. With some of my changes and the completion of the Wanzek project I will have more time to do this. Love helping others put the pieces of their family puzzles together.

I will continue to participate heavily in Social Media in the Genealogy world. It will continue to grow as time goes by and I plan on being a part of it. Would like to do some Webinars coming up this year. Will be doing one in May for the Florida Genealogical Society. Looking forward to it.

Continue to do speaking at various locations. Enjoy this a great deal and I learn a lot as well from the folks in the audience.

This year I am also going to be putting together some help guides on doing your research. It will cover a variety of subjects. The blogs will also be included more regularly in my daily work.

Continue to expand my work with the Social Workers to identify families. This has been very rewarding.

Finally I will start teaching again at some point here in the Toledo area. Have had three people respond to my post. If you would like to contact me directly on this I can be reached at

Look forward to hearing from you and again Happy New Year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year 2015

Happy New Year.

Well I have moved out of another past year and into a new one. Things were exciting in 2014 and I had many accomplishments.

The biggest one for me was finishing the Wanzek project. This was the complete family history that spanned from the 1700's in Germany, Holland and Poland to 2014. The family came to the United States in the latter half of the 1900's locating in Minnesota. Half the family shortly after arrival would move to North Dakota. Amazing the hardships and the challenges these families had to survive in a very under populated area of the United States. The project lasted for two years and will culminate in the publishing of a genealogy this year.

Secondly I was hired by Seneca Social Services to help in the location of family members for the possible connection to children that are in the process of going in to the foster system or have reached the age of eighteen. This has been a fascinating way to use my genealogy skills to help others. It has opened my eyes to the many problems in the Social Services System. The people that work in Social Services face many unique challenges on a daily basis. Not to mention what the children go through.

Thirdly, I continued to do my talks across the Tri State area. Lapeer was a highlight as usual. Enjoyed speaking on behalf of the Ohio Genealogical Society for their chapter training. Look forward to participating again this year. Teaching at the OGS library was also a highlight.

I also had some things that changed. The largest one was the discontinuation of my teaching at Lourdes. This was sad for me. I had been teaching there for four years. Hard to believe that people were not interested in learning more about their families history. Finally I discontinues administering the Indiana, Michigan and Ohio Genealogy research communities. Learned a lot from this experience and hope to use some of these skills moving forward.

Excited to see what lies ahead in 2015, but I will save that for tomorrow.

As always please share your thoughts and ideas.