Changing Names in Identified Pictures?

I came across this image the other day and it got me to thinking:

should one go back and re-label pictures when someone has changed their name?

I’m inclined to think not.

The modified image (which is the one used to illustrate this post) was posted to Genealogy Tip of the Day on Facebook where it generated some discussion. I’m still leaning towards not going back and changing the name I’ve used to identify my daughter on already annotated images for the following reasons:

  • it identifies her name at the point in time the picture was taken
  • it was her correct name–it’s not like she was identified incorrectly as someone else
  • I have other pictures that are not annotated where I do know who is in them
  • I really have better things to do with my time

There are context clues in the original image’s annotation. I should have added “great-granddaughter,” but I’m not certain that now I’m going to back and add that to the images where I have not already done it. As I continue to identify images, I’ll put brief relationship information (when known) in the annotation. But I don’t think it’s necessary to modify and identify my daughter by her married name. As I identify other images I may do that. It also may be a good idea to include the date the digital image and identification was made along with the date of the picture (if known), making it clear which date is which.


FamilyTreeDNA’s Free Autosomal Transfer I’d Almost Forgotten About

I used the Free Autosomal Data Transfer at Family Tree DNA to upload my raw DNA test results from AncestryDNA several months ago. There were not any “immediately exciting beyond belief matches” and I put looking at the results on the back burner.

They were still on the back burner when I received an email last week from someone who contacted me after noticing a connection to my DNA. The predicted cousin relationship was between second and fourth cousins. The connection was distant–we’re fourth cousins twice removed–but I was excited to contact with a relative. Our paper connection was relatively easy for me to determine since it was on my fairly well-documented maternal lines. We’ll save the details of that for a later post. The really summarized version is that one needs to have their paper pedigree as complete as possible. I was fortunate that the connection was not in one of my families where I have more blanks.

Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of DNA testing is, as we’ve mentioned before, easier when you “know something” about your family. That’s why I suggest experimenting first with the DNA matches you have on the portions of your tree where you know more–even if that’s not really why you did the DNA testing. That will increase your understanding of DNA and help you when you begin working on the more confusing aspects of your DNA matches.

The “”Free Autosomal Data Transfer” allows you to view your matches to other submitters at Family Tree DNA and to use FamilyTreeDNA‘s”Family Finder Matrix.” Note: “Family Finder” is the name of Family Tree DNA’s autosomal test.

Keep in mind that this will not simply be a way to “view all AncestryDNA submitters” in a different format–not all users of  AncestryDNA  have submitted their data to Family Tree DNA. There will be submitters at Family Tree DNA who are not on other sites. Reaching out to more people is one of the largest reasons to use more than one site to submit your completed results. If you’ve had your autosomal DNA done at  AncestryDNA or one of the other sites you can download that data and submit it.  You do not need to retest.


I decided to spend the $19 and “unlock” all Family Finder features, which include the Chromosome Browser, myOrigins, and ancientOrigins. Personally I was only superficially interested in the “origins” features of the site, but did want to be able to view the results in the chromosome browser–something one is not able to do at  AncestryDNA

My “origins” chart was interesting–we’ll discuss it briefly in another post.

Christopher Troutfetter Sues the Chicago, Rock Island,and Pacific Railway

According to the “Historical Record Index View” at the Colorado State Archives website, a man named Christopher Troutfetter was involved in a legal dispute with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway in the 1890s. The index does not indicate which party is the defendant and which party is the plaintiff. The index does not indicate what the case was about either.

The court case is dated 16 November 1898. There is no indication if this was the date the court action was initiated or completed. It’s a typical index entry–it’s meant to lead one to the actual record. It’s not meant to replace it.

Christopher Troutfetter is a new name to me. The only Troutfetter I was aware of being in Colorado during this time period was Philip and perhaps one of his brothers who lived in nearby Kansas. None of them were named Christopher. This was the time period when Philip was having legal difficulties of his own, but they involved his wife, his mother-in-law, and the United States Postal Inspector–not the railroad.

I’ve got to do a little more research to see who this Christopher is. That’s the problem with uncommon names–when we find a “new person,” we try and see where they fit into the ones we are already aware of.






Note: The Colorado State Archives is a part of the Colorado Department of Personnel & Adminstration.

FamilySearch Indexed My Ancestor As Marrying His Sister

Indexes are not the same thing as records. Indexes are finding aids.

One may be tempted to think that just because the index says that Augusta Newman and Sophia Thomas  were married in Nicholas County, Kentucky, in 1829 that they actually were. Researchers whose prime interest is in speed and collecting names may simply copy the information into their database and go from there. That would be a mistake. Augusta and Sophia are not husband and wife.

They are brother and sister.

That’s just the first lesson in the “marriage” entry for Augusta Newman and Sophia Thomas in “Kentucky County Marriages 1797-1829” at FamilySearch: look at the actual record from which the index entry was created.

First of all, it’s not even a marriage. The index entry links to an image of an oath made by Augusta Newman in regards to Sophia Thomas. But that oath had nothing to do with their marriage. It states:

Nicholas County Sct. Augt 8rd 1829.

Augusta Neuman this day made oath before me that the within named Sophia Thomas acknd this certificate in his presence for the uses therein mentioned.


E H. Parks DC

The use of the word “within” in “within named Sophia Thomas” and the phrase “this certificate” suggested that there was more to this oath. Sophia must have signed some document that Augusta witnessed.

To navigate to the previous image in hopes of locating more information, I clicked on the left navigational arrow. That resulted in the following screen.

That document did not mention Sophia Thomas. It was signed by William A. Thomas and James Campbell and mentioned the impending marriage of Thomas to Lorana Campbell (it was the marriage bond). Sophia Thomas was not mentioned. I zoomed out of the image and realized there was another document at the bottom of the image. One picture had been taken to capture two pieces of paper. The upper item was the marriage bond. The lower item was the one to which Augusta Newman was referring.

There it was. This was apparently the document signed by Sophia Thomas and attested to by Augusta Newman. While I have not compared the document images to see if the edges are a perfect match, there seems little doubt this is the other side of the document image where Augusta Newman made out an oath regarding the validity of Sophia Thomas’ signature.

Sophia and Augusta were not getting married. Sophia gave permission on 3 August 1829 for her son, William A. Thomas, to marry. Augusta Newman attested to her actual signature. Augusta Newman took the document to the courthouse and swore out an oath that he witnessed her signature.

I could be irritated that the index indicated Augusta and Sophia married when they actually did not.

However I might not have located the item had their names not been indexed in this fashion. Sophia and Augusta were brother and sister–that’s not stated anywhere in this record and is information that’s been located in other records. Sophia’s husband was dead and Augusta was helping her arrange for her son to get a marriage license. It even appears that Augusta wrote out the letter himself for Sophia to sign–actually make her mark. That’s a neat discovery for someone who is a descendant of Augusta to make.

One difficulty with using digital images of local records is that they often come in a variety of sizes with important details written on both sides. Sometimes the details on one side help explain what is on the other side. Sometimes it can be difficult to know which “front” goes with which “back.” It can also be easy to overlook records–particularly if one does not make certain one has viewed all that has been digitized.


Was the Census Taker Off a Line?

The fifty-two year old man born in Iowa in about 1808 was a clue something might be off. That’s an early year of birth for someone born in Iowa. It’s possible, but not too probable.

Other information in the last two households from this 1860 census page look askew as well. In both cases, the wife is the only one with an occupation and property. While women could be enumerated with real or personal property in 1860, being listed with an occupation is highly unusual. It’s even more unusual for two of those families to live as neighbors to each other and for those occupations to be ones that tended to be dominated males (farmer and carpenter).

It looks like the enumerator got “off” by a line starting with the occupation column for these last two households.

That’s not an indexing error. It’s a census enumerator error.

My transcription of this record will reflect what it actually says, along with an annotation as to why I think there is an error and what I think the intention was. My transcription needs to make clear where the original record ends and my thoughts begin. I do not want my transcription to say something that the record does not actually say. Others can read my transcription and commentary and decide for themselves.

From a research standpoint, if I search indexes to this census for Jacob Dingman born in Canada, I won’t find him.

This guy was born in Iowa.

Born in Iowa about 1808–according to the census.

That’s how he will be indexed.

Something else to consider when searching indexes of records.

Do You Back Out of FamilySearch Images?

When viewing digital images of microfilm, make certain you are seeing everything–not just what you’ve zoomed in on. When some local records were filmed, more than one document may have been filmed for one “image,” particularly if the original pieces of paper were small. If you have zoomed in to view something at a higher magnification level and navigated through several images, you may be missing something. I was navigating through images, but because I was zoomed in I was only seeing the top portion of the image and in some cases overlooked the smaller document that made up the bottom of the image.

When navigating to a new image, zoom out to make certain you are not overlooking something.


An Online Tree Reminder

I will be honest: I use the online trees for clues and leads when I’m stuck or when I’m working on a new-to-me family–leads and clues, not facts. Sometimes it’s just to get me jump-started.

Personally I get the most benefit out of them when the problem is relatively recent and the bulk of the people lived the majority of their life after 1880. There are more records in general and the best tree (not the most common one by any stretch of the imagination) is one that has records attached to it. Of course people do attach wrong records and can make incorrect conclusions (they do that in books as well), but at least one can view the records and see what they have located and decide whether it fits the people in question or not and whether the conclusions drawn are warranted or not.

Ya gotta read and ya gotta think. That’s true anywhere.

Often after a few minutes with a tree one can easily tell if it’s going to potentially have leads worth following or not. It’s good to keep a list of trees that have not been all that helpful. My list is not being shared and it’s not for public consumption.

I recently discovered an online tree that did contain links to records that I had not located in my initial searches for individuals in a new-to-me branch of the family. It also contained some errors in conclusions. As we’ve said before, if you decide to use the trees:

  • do not merge the tree data into your data automatically–never ever.
  • verify what you see in the trees–always–all the time.
  • don’t believe everything you see in the tree-even if it looks like a good apple–there can be a worm lurking inside.
  • consider contacting the compiler-especially if it seems as if they are working on making an accurate tree–remember that some tree compilers are good about correcting errors. Others are not.
  • think, think, & think.


GedMatch.Com Webinar 2 (on Tier 1 Functionalities) Released Webinar 2

Tier 1 Options on GedMatch

This presentation focuses on an overview of the Tier 1 search options of GedMatch. Tier 1 is the “fee-based” part of GedMatch–it costs $10 a month and helps support the free portions of the site. GedMatch allows you to “see more” of your DNA and analyze it in ways that simply are not possible on AncestryDNA and some of the other sites.

We will look at the:

  • One-to-many matches
  • Matching segment search
  • Relationship Tree Projection
  • Lazarus
  • Triangulation

Our focus will be on interpreting the results and using them for continuing your genealogical research. A basic understanding of DNA is required. You do not need to be a “Tier 1” member of GedMatch to participate. Our approach is practical, easy-to-understand, and engaging.

The grid shows the “matching segment search.”

Purchase this session for immediate downloadIf you registered for live attendance or pre-ordered, please contact me (using the email address in your receipt) for the download link–do not re-order.

AncestryDNA Circles–Back in Ten

I never did a blog post about it, but for the last few months I was down to being in six DNA circles at  AncestryDNA.

Now I’m back up to ten:

  • Christianna (DeMoss) Rampley (born in the early 1770s probably in Harford County, Maryland–12 members of this circle.
  • Augusta Newman (died 1861 White County, Indiana)–8 members of the circle.
  • Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein (born 1814 Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany and his wife Tjade Anna Focken (Tammen) Goldenstein (born 1824 Buhren, Ostfriesland, Germany)–3 in both circles.
  • Hinrich Janssen Ufkes (born 1797 Ostfriesland, Germany) and the circle for his wife Trientje Eilts (Post) Ufkes(born 1803 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany). There are 8 in Hinrich’s circle and 7 in Trientje’s circle.
  • Riley Rampley (born 1835 Coshocton County, Ohio) and the circle for his wife Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley(born 1846 Rush County, Indiana)–3 in both circles.
  • Johann Friederichs Hinrichs Ufkes (born 1838 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany) and the circle for his wife Noentje Lena (Grass) Ufkes (born 1848 Backemoor, Ostfriesland, Germany)–Johann’s circle as 4 and Noentje’s circle has 3.

It’s not unusual for circles of married couples to have different numbers of descendants in them. Not everyone inherits DNA from every ancestor as the tree extends further and further back. And not all my DNA matches will be in these circles as you have to have a tree associated with your DNA test to be considered for a circle membership.

I did determine who is in the circle for Johann Friederichs Hinrichs Ufkes but not for his wife Noentje (Grass). It is a descendant that I know and one who also in the circles for Johann and Tjade (Tammen) Goldenstein. It looks like the circles are still in flux.


From Whom Do You Get 25% of Your X-DNA?

X-DNA (in the 23rd pair) is inherited from mother to child and from father to daughter. It is not passed from father to son. The percentages here are approximate because X-DNA is recombined (generally speaking, shuffled up with the other member of the 23rd pair and the appropriate amount gets passed on) when it passes from mother to child. There is no shuffling when the father passes the X-DNA on.

Because of how the X-DNA is passed, it is possible to track where it flowed through your ancestry.

Approximately 25% of my X-DNA comes from Elske Tjarks (Fecht) Janssen who lived her whole life in Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany (19 November 1829-23 December 1867).

Do you know where approximately 25% of your X-DNA comes from?

Interestingly enough, for me approximately 50% of my X-DNA comes from the same small Ostfriesen village. The following 3rd great-grandparents of mine were from the same village of Wiesens:

  • Elska Tjarks (Fecht) Janssen–25% of my X-DNA
  • Hinrich Jacobs Fecht–12.5% of my X-DNA
  • Maria Gerdes Wilkens (Bruns) Fecht–12.5% of my X-DNA

We’ll have a follow up post on the relationship between Elska and Hinrich–it’s fairly far back.

The values in this chart are theoretical mean values. Not everyone’s percentage of DNA from these specific ancestors will necessarily be these percentages depending upon how the DNA is recombined when the mother’s egg is created.