When I Chart Out My Online Search Attempts

Online searches go better when they are organized.

Organized searches increase the chance the the person of interest is found in the database and that, if they are not located, effective alternate search strategies can be conducted and the researcher can more easily problem-solve in an attempt to improve their results. Searching willy-nilly without keeping track of what one is doing is asking to not find the person.

I usually chart out my search attempts and the search combinations that were used–with one major restriction. This is only done if the person is not easily found. If I’ve spent more than ten minutes searching a database for someone, it is time to think about all the search options available to me and make certain that there are not search combinations that I am overlooking.

That is what happens when one does not track the searches that are conducted. Tables and charts can help in organizing the searches. They serve as a research log and can aid in making certain every search combination has been conducted.



It’s not necessary to create this table every time a database is searched. That’s not really a good use of time. Neither is performing the same search over and over. It also allows the researcher to tell someone else:

Here is what I did and I still couldn’t find them.

If the record set is small, searching the records manually is a good suggestion. But if the person lived somewhere in the “general Chicago area” in 1920 a manual search may not be practical–leaving us with only database queries.

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Finding Noentje…Err Lena

Noentje Lena Grass had been one of those immigrant ancestors I could never find on a manifest. Virtually all of my Ostfriesen ancestors have been found–and I have over twenty who immigrated between 1850 and 1883.

I think I’ve located the Backemoor, Ostfriesland, native in the New York Passenger lists.

Years ago when I searched, I focused too much on her first name and the variants such as Nontje, Nantje, etc. The recent discovery of letters she wrote in 1887 indicated she might have gone by Lena as well.
Searching the passenger lists for Lena/Lina Gross/Grass brought no results.
I finally gave up on the first name when searching. I went back and revisited her 1900 census entry (it is the last one for her as she died in 1902). On that census (which easily could be wrong) she indicated she came to the US in 1873. I performed the search as shown in the image with this post.

This entry struck my interest.

And when seeing the actual image, it is easy to see how the entry could have been interpreted as Luie. However, it really does appear to be to be Lina.

Next on my list is to look at the other names on the manifest and see if any of them “ring a bell” in my head.

And I will pay close attention particularly to any last or first names that sound Ostfriesen.

We’ve looked for great-great-grandma for years on passenger lists and I’m just excited to find her (I think).

And it is always important to track your searches as you do them, so you do not repeat searches already done and so that all reasonable searches are conducted.

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DNA Painter and GEdMatch Webinar-Revised

This session focuses on the free aspects of DNA Painter at http://www.dnapainter.com. This is an updated presentation–we have given presentations on DNAPainter before and if you ordered that earlier presentation please note this one is similar to that one.

We will discuss downloading matching data from DNA sites, painting your DNA matches, finding match data, labeling, grouping, overlapping segments, and more as time allows. Our concentration is on getting you started with DNAPainter in a way that will help you make effective use of it as your research progresses. If you’ve wondered what DNAPainter is, how to use, and what it can do for you, this presentation will help you to do that. Pre-ordering the presentation includes the recorded presentation (that can be viewed more than once) and a detailed handout as a PDF file.

Register for live attendance.

You cannot upload your raw data to DNA Painter. You need the segment data that you can get from 23andme, FamilytreeDNA, Gedmatch, and MyHeritage. Pre-order the presentation and handout ($16.99).

Based upon suggestions from readers, we’ve put together this session on DNAPainter and GedMatch combined. Using just one tool is not an effective way to analyze your DNA matches.

Date: 30 June 2019 at 8 PM central

From GedMatch, we’ll use:

  • one-to-many matches
  • one-to-one compare
  • matching segment search

DNAPainter’s mapping tool will be also be utilized. DNAPainter tells you when a new painted match has shared DNA with other matches you’ve already painted. We’ll be using that feature of the site.

We will look at:

  • organizing your analysis and process
  • documenting your thought process and conclusions for later review
  • tracking shared matches
  • assigning segments to ancestors and couples
  • specific examples–including one where the grandfather of the testee was unknown

What you should already know or have done:

  • Basics of DNA analysis–accuracy of predicted relationships, centimorgans and segments, why you don’t have DNA from every one of your ancestors, why third cousins may not share DNA, why siblings don’t have the same DNA, why predicted cousin relationships are estimates, etc.
  • Experimented with DNAPainter–at least painted a few matches.
  • Also recommended that you’ve already uploaded you DNA data to GedMatch–we won’t be discussing how to do that in this presentation.
  • Have already looked at your GedMatch results
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The Missing George Trautvetter: Part II

All transcriptions are not created equally. That’s one reason why it’s important to know from where the image being used was created. The card in our earlier post was from George Trautvetter’s Compiled Military Service Record (the record was created as a summary of Trautvetter’s service in Company H, 15th Infantry Volunteers Missouri Infantry and is available at the National Archives in Washington DC and in microfilm and digital format elsewhere).

There was also a card at the Missouri State Archives made from the same muster as Trautvetter’s Compiled Military Service Record at the National Archives was made. That card only listed Trautvetter’s place of enlistment as “Keokuk.”

The card from the Missouri State Archives indicated Trautvetter enlisted in Keokuk, Iowa. Not a big difference and the difference was minimal.

Contextually I knew that the reference on the complied military service record to “Keokuk” was to Keokuk, Iowa. The second card confirmed it.

But transcriptions made from the same record can differ. That’s why it’s important to indicate the source of any image that we use. These images are digital copies of the actual cards made from the muster rolls. That makes the cards derivative sources. There’s no reason to doubt their accuracy, but they are not original records as they are transcriptions.

And transcriptions can differ.

That little “Ia” matters.

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The Missing George Trautvetter: Part I

In families where names are repeated repeatedly it can be easy to overlook one of the “repeatees.”

One of the best ways to avoid that is to research as completely as possible. For a long time I was unaware of one of the Georges.

I knew that my ancestor, John George Trautvetter  (1798-1871) and his wife Sophia Elisabeth Derle (1807-1877) had a son George Trautvetter. I knew this George was in the Civil War and had left descendants. I also knew that John George had bothers Henry, Adam, and Michael. Adam and Michael died without children. When Michael died intestate in 1869, Henry’s children Christian, Ernestine, and Michael were listed as Henry’s heirs since Henry had already died.

Seemed pretty cut and dried. However, one has to remember that probates are generally only interested in living heirs or deceased heirs who left descendants. Deceased heirs who left no descendants of their own are usually not mentioned in such probates. 

Such is the case with George Trautvetter. He appears as the apparently 27-year old George Trautvetter enumerated with his parents, Henry and Barbara Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois’ Montebello Township in 1860. There are other family members in the household, including George’s brother Adam, his sister-in-law Eve, and some of George and Eve’s children. One might be tempted to think that perhaps George died in the Civil War given that the last known reference to him is in 1860. That would be reasonable speculation, but it turns out to only be partially true. 

It turns out the last reference to George is likely not the 1860 census.

It is still not known when George died, but he is believed to be the George Trautvetter who served in Company H, 15th Missouri Infantry. The last card in George Trautvetter’s compiled military service record (original at the US National Archives and available online in several locations) for service in Company H indicated that he enlisted in “Keokuk” on 12 July [1861] and was mustered in on 22 September 1861 in St. Louis. That reference to “Keokuk” is likely to Keokuk, Iowa–right across the Mississippi River from where the Trautvetter family was enumeration in 1860 and also along the Missouri/Iowa border.

It may even be worth my time to look up local newspaper articles at the time of George’s enlistment in July of 1861 to see if there’s any reference to enlistments or recruitment. It’s doubtful his name will be specifically mentioned, but there may be some sort of reference to “Hancock County boys” or something suggestive that locals were crossing the river to enlist. Newspapers should be utilized until the muster-in date as there may be mention of the recruits heading down to St. Louis.

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Really Tracking Your Research?

This was posted 11 years ago. I don’t think we’re any closer today than we were then.

In the old days of genealogy, we were told to fill out “research logs” where we tracked the sources we used, what names or families we looked for in these sources and the results of our search. Tracking what we did as we did it was a laudable goal.

I’m just concerned now that with the advent of searchable databases, most genealogists are not coming anywhere close to tracking what they search for in a specific database or on a given website.

If I am searching for a family in an online 1860 census index, am I keeping track of all the necessary variants of the first name and the last name? If I fail to locate the likely head of household, am I searching for all the other likely household members? Do I write down all the variants for the last name and think about what is the best combination of wildcard and soundex searches for those names? Do I do the same with the first names? Am I searching for all nicknames, diminutives, etc.?

If the likely residence of a family geographically small, I can search the census manually. If it is large, this may be possible or it may be impractical. I’ve seen articles where it has been said someone cannot be found in a census. I rarely see where the specific unsuccessful searches are listed out in an attempt to defend the “can’t find them statement.” If the census is searched manually then listing the procedure really is not necessary (but the source is). But if a manual search is not done and it is said “she can’t be found” then the search parameters should be included.

The genealogical community is more aware of the importance of sources than they were twenty-five or so years ago. Now we need to work on our tracking of search parameters, particularly when we are indicating someone “can’t be found” and a manual search is impratical.

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An Added Search Feature

There are several genealogical data vendors who release databases as they are “in progress.” This is fine and good. However, it would be nice if those databases allowed us to somehow search the “new” material or data uploaded since a certain point in time. If that cannot be done, at least the ability to mark results that we have already viewed would be nice. Wading through the same results can be tiresome.

Just a suggestion.

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Reading Everything Makes Things Easier to Read

The 2 April 1902 will of Barbara Haase of Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, includes the names of two witnesses. One was written in English and the other was written in German. I didn’t do too bad of a job reading them, but wish I had read the entire set of documents from Barbara’s probate before I did.

The subpoena from 12 July 1903 provides another rendering of the names of the witnesses to the will of Barbara Haase. The signatures are not all that difficult to read, but researchers should be aware that there may be additional records in the probate file that provides the names of the witnesses in a handwriting that may be easier to read.

Names of witnesses are always potential clues. The names are easier to use if they have been read and interpreted correctly.

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Declaring Their Intent at 336 East 115th Street, Chicago

Databases and indexes have their limitations. Items can be overlooked. Names can be transcribed incorrectly. Putting those problems aside (while not forgetting them), databases created from original records can afford us the opportunity to make discoveries that would be nearly impossible if a manual search of the records were necessary. Databases can save a great deal of time.

Such is the case with the database of declarations of intention on the Cook County (Illinois) Clerk of the Circuit Court’s website. The individual in question, Panagatios (Peter) Verikios indicated he was living at 336 East 115th Street in Chicago at the time he made out his declaration of intention to become a United States citizen on 12 April 1928. The database allows for searches by address and Peter was the only individual listed with an address of 336 East 115th Street.

Until a search was conducted for 336 E. 115TH ST. That’s when a much longer list of declarants was returned. They were all natives of Greece. Several were natives of Saint/Santa Maura, the same location Peter provided on his declaration. Other indicated Lefkada as a place of birth, which is the same location Peter provided on another document that requested his place of birth.

Now I need to look at the names of the witnesses on Peter’s declaration and naturalization documents.

I also need to figure out what was going on at 336 East 115th Street.

I also most did not look at the database as I already had Peter’s declaration of intent and his naturalization papers.

One more lesson: it doesn’t hurt to search databases you “don’t think you need.” You never know what you may discover while searching them.

What follows is the list of men who gave the same address Peter gave when he declared his intention to become a citizen.

NAME BIRTH DATE BIRTH TOWN BIRTH COUNTRY OCCUPATION
APOSTOLOPOULOS, DEMETRIOS 5/10/1886 BENDRONI GREECE LABORER
BELEGAINO [BALEGRINO], THEMESTOKIS [THEMESTOKLIS] 8/21/1874 LEVINE GREECE JANITOR
BURSINAS, KONSTANTINOS 4/10/1894 SANTA MARIA GREECE BUTCHER
DIGELOS, THOMAS 5/1/1892 PERATEA GREECE LABORER
DIZELOS, LOUIS 7/6/1886 PERITIA GREECE LABORER
DOGLOS, DIONISIOS 4/10/1893 KATAUMIRI GREECE LABORER
EFSTATHEON, EMANUEL 1/10/1876 TKYOOS GREECE LABORER
FETUS, CHRISTOS 3/15/1896 SANTA MAVRA GREECE LABORER
FLOGERAS, GEORGE 5/13/1890 PATRAS GREECE WAITER
GEORGAKIS, CONSTANTINOS 5/21/1893 CAVALON GREECE LABORER
GEORGAKIS, PETER 4/8/1887 SANTA MARIA GREECE LABORER
GOKAS [GOKA], GEORGE 8/28/1891 MARATHON GREECE BOILER MAKER HELPER
GRAPSAS, GERASIMOS 10/20/1887 EXARITHIAN GREECE GROCER
GRAPSAS, KONSTANTINE 3/25/1897 SANTA MARIA GREECE GROCERY & MEAT MARKET
GRAPSAS, NICOLAS 12/14/1887 LEFKADA GREECE LABORER
KAMAS, NICK 1/1/1878 LANTHEY GREECE LABORER
KARIOS, HARRY 2/5/1895 KALAMETER GREECE COOK
KONTROVBES, DEMETRIOUS 3/17/1879 EGEON GREECE LABORER
KOPULZ, ANTONIOS P. 2/12/1891 SARABALE, PATRAS GREECE BOILERMAKER
KOUTRAUMPIS, DIMITRIOS 5/1/1886 OGION GREECE MACHINIST
LIAPSAS, BILL 1/10/1891 XARTHE GREECE LABORER
MACREYOYOS, CONSTANTENOS 4/4/1901 KALAMITRI GREECE LABORER
MACRIGIORGAS, TRIANDAPHILOS 3/25/1897 SANTA MARIA GREECE WAITER
PANAGIOTAKOPOULOS, HARILAOS 12/20/1877 PATRAS GREECE HELPER
PANAGIOTOPOULS, HIRAGLIS [HIRACLIS] 2/15/1878 MORIANON GREECE FRUITS
PAPPADOPULOS, DENNIS 11/10/1891 SANTA MAIRA GREECE LABORER
SGOUROPOULOS, ANTONIOS 6/15/1887 SANTA MAURA GREECE CHEF
SPELIOTOPOULOS, GEORGE 1/5/1879 PLANTANOS GREECE LABORER
VEREKEOS, GEORGE 12/1/1894 LEFKADA GREECE FRUIT STORE
VLAHOS, VASSILIOS 10/15/1896 EXPANTHIA GREECE PAINTER
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What Is It?

It can be difficult sometimes to know exactly what you are looking at. That difficulty can be compounded when an image has been copied and shared by someone whose excitement in locating something has surpassed their concern about remembering when and where something was located. This also assumes that the person who located something realized that the details of “where and how” they obtained an item were important.

This issue is compounded with how easy it is to screen shot an image and make digital copies of digital images of records. Some times it is a little too easy.

Genealogists though want to know where an image came from. The information on the image can’t be accurately cited and analyzed if those details are unknown. It also makes it difficult to determine if there’s a way to get a better image if one has no idea what one is really looking at.

Then there’s the real reason.

There may be more information.

Let’s face it. Genealogists are after more information. If someone sent us an image of a record, then there might be more.

The image in this post is from a Revolutionary War widow’s pension application. That’s not clear from just what’s on the image, but the consistent handwriting tells me this is a copy of the record–not the original. And the style of handwriting looks a little “too modern” for something done in the 1780s. Reading the entire document (always suggested–no, make that required) reveals that it’s a transcribed copy of the document and is not a digital image of the original.

I may want to try and get the original document–so I can see the actual handwriting and see if there’s anything else on it that may be relevant to my research. This transcription was in a widow’s application for a pension based on her husband’s service. The goal of her application was to get the pension–proving the marriage was a part of that. It’s always possible that there is a comment or notation on the original that mentions something else.

That something might have had nothing to do with Mary’s marriage to Dominick, but could be helpful in my search.

I won’t know if I don’t look.

And I won’t know where to look if I don’t find out what I’m looking at in the first place.

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