Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Uploading Gedcom to Family Tree DNA Profile

Last week ftDNA released a new version of their new Family Tree tool. This new Family Tree replaces the old system which displayed only the direct line GEDCOM. The best feature of this new Family Tree is the ability to attach your matches to your tree! If you already had a GEDCOM uploaded to your ftDNA previously, then it has just been converted to the new Family Tree display. If you did not yet have a GEDCOM uploaded, you can do so now following these instructions. I recommend starting with a direct line ancestor GEDCOM for now. Collateral lines can be added at a later time.

Uploading a GEDCOM to your Family Tree DNA Profile

Log in to your ftDNA homepage with the kit id and password you got when you ordered your kit

From the home page, click on the "Family Tree" button

ftDNA Family Tree tool

In the lower right hand corner of the page, click the gear icon next to the red box that says "Have a GEDCOM? click to upload it now."

Select "Upload a GEDCOM" from the drop down box

ftDNA Upload Gedcom - 1

You will be asked if you want to overwrite your current family tree - Click the upload button.

ftDNA Upload Gedcom - 2

Select the GEDCOM you want to upload.

Select your name from the drop down box of the newly uploaded GEDCOM

ftDNA Upload Gedcom - 3

Then click the "This is Me!" button. 

A message will appear saying this GEDCOM is being processed and might take a few minutes.

After it's uploaded, look through your Family Tree to make sure it uploaded ok.

If you have other relatives who tested with ftDNA, they are a match to you, and they are listed in your Family Tree, there will be a little pink link icon beside their name. You can click on that icon to link that relative to your Family Tree. In this picture, the GEDCOM is for my mother, and it is asking if I want to link my profile to hers.

ftDNA Link match to Family Tree

Click the Link button to link that relative to your tree.

A message will appear telling you that linking to this person's profile will update their biographical information and do you want to proceed?

Click the Link button to continue.

That's it! You're done!

You can then adjust your settings for who can view your tree by clicking on your name in the upper right hand corner, then clicking on the genealogy tab.

Additional Resources: 

ftDNA webinar: Introduction of the new Family Tree Tool

ftDNA has a set of instructions for use of the new Family Tree Tool here.

There is a new thread to discuss the new Family Tree tool at ftDNA. Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments and suggestions here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How my AncestryDNA Match stands up in Gedmatch

Old Man Wagging Finger
In my last post, I evaluated one of my "shaky leaf" matches whom AncestryDNA predicted would have a shared ancestor with me. We compared our online family trees and determined that we were connected via the Long/Lang line of Jasper County, Georgia. This match was instrumental in both of our research efforts because conflicting documentation regarding the Long/Lang surname had made it difficult to place our ancestors with the correct set of parents. This DNA match allowed us to confidently place our ancestors within the same family of John and Margaret Lang.

I have to admit, by the time I finished writing this last post, I was pretty hooked with using AncestryDNA. But I know when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. I knew there were going to be limitations with the AncestryDNA service going in to it. And I wanted to put this to the test. Unfortunately, my suspicions were confirmed:  My AncestryDNA match and I were not really connected, genetically speaking,  via the Lang/Long line!

My Pedigree:

My descent from John and Margaret Lang is as follows:
Basheba Long & Washington Phelps
Lucinda S Phelps & Burwell Binns
Milton A Binns & Susan Ann Dupree
John Milton Binns & Perthinia "Pert" Brooks
John Brooks Binns & Blanche Kathryn Hill
B Binns and D Smith - my grandparents
T Smith & M Godwin - my parents
Ginger Smith - me

I have tested myself, both of my parents, and 3 of my 4 grandparents to date. If I received any DNA from my Lang / Long ancestors, I would have inherited it from my Father, who inherited it from his mother, my grandmother, B. Binns. However I tested all of us at FamilyTreeDNA and tested only myself at Ancestry.com. In order to compare any DNA results from AncestryDNA to results from FamilyTreeDNA, they must first be uploaded to a 3rd party website called Gedmatch.com. GedMatch allows you to compare autosomal DNA across all 3 testing companies - Ancestry.com, 23AndMe, and FamilyTreeDNA. It's FREE and easy to use!

What I Did:

I convinced my match to upload her AncestryDNA results to Gedmatch.com. Once uploaded, I compared her results to my grandmother, B. Binns, who descends from our Lang / Long ancestors. I expected to see a good match since my grandmother is closer to the shared ancestor than I am. Surprisingly, there was NO MATCH. Not only was there no match, but my match did not share the same segments of DNA with my grandmother that she shared with me.

Here is a list of segments S.A.T. shares with me:

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs

Largest segment = 7.2 cM
Total of segments > 1 cM = 18.9 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 6.8

Here is a list of segments S.A.T. shares with my grandmother:

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs
Largest segment = 3.1 cM
Total of segments > 1 cM = 11.1 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 7.2

There are no overlaps between where she matches my grandmother and where she matches me.

Is this For Real?

If you look at how S.A.T. matches to me, you will see that the MOST that we match on is 7.2 cM on ch 3. Our total matching segments are only 18.9 cM. This is a very low resolution match in my opinion. In order for someone to be considered a "match" in FamilyTreeDNA, they have to share at least one segment of DNA that is 7 cM long - this requirement IS met in this example. The 2nd requirement by FamilyTreeDNA is to have a minimum of 20 cM total DNA shared between two people to be considered a match. S.A.T. and I only share a total of 18.9 cM, so this would not fulfill the requirement to be considered a match in the FamilyTreeDNA system. So is this a real match or not?

Not Maternal..., so Paternal?

Although I was discouraged, I did not let this set back keep me from looking at my match more closely. Although she wasn't a match to my grandmother as I expected, I then compared her to the rest of my family members, including my grandfather and my mother and her father. She DID come back as a match to my paternal grandfather.

Here is a list of common chromosome segments between my match and my grandfather:

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs

Largest segment = 7.2 cM
Total of segments > 1 cM = 14.9 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 7.0

Here is a list of common chromosome segments between my match and me:

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs

Largest segment = 7.2 cM
Total of segments > 1 cM = 18.9 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 6.8

You can see that my match shares the SAME chromosome segment on ch 3 from 25052678 to 30683436 with me that she shares with my grandfather. That segment is 7.2 cM long. This means that our genetic connection came down to me through my grandfather, not my grandmother, and that our common ancestors ACCORDING TO THE DNA, are not the Langs or Longs, but a different set of ancestors shared on my grandfather's side.

I am happy to have connected with my match on the Lang / Long line, and to have extended my tree out further with the addition of her line; However, I can no longer conclude that "DNA proves that my Basheba Long was the daughter of John Lang" ...because I am a DNA match to other descendants of John Lang....

This is where we have to draw the line between DNA testing and genealogy and make distinctions about what each one can do. My mantra has always been, "If you're going to do it, then do it right!" The bottom line is that you can't really use one research method independent of the other. You can't rely solely on the DNA to give you answers and sometimes the paper trail just isn't enough.


AncestryDNA is a good tool to use to find connections and to expand your paper trail or family tree. However, its usefulness is limited with regards to DNA because the chromosome data is not made available to the testee. In this example, I found a connection with my DNA match via our online trees and genealogical paper trails. However, when I input the raw DNA data into Gedmatch.com, I realized that the DNA connection, represented by the DNA that is shared between us, was not carried down to me from my Lang or Long ancestors like the paper trail suggested. A side by side comparison of the segments my match shared with me to the ones she shared with my grandmother clearly showed that I did not receive the segments that I shared with this match from my grandmother who is a direct descendant of the Langs/Longs. Additionally, when I compared my match to my grandfather, it was clearly apparent that the segments I shared with my match were carried down to me through my grandfather because he, too, shared those same segments with my match.

Now, who's going to break it to my match that we have to go back to the drawing board and start over???

Related Posts

My AncestryDNA Test, part 1 - A look at the Closest Matches

My AncestryDNA Test, Part 2, The Shaky Leafs

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My AncestryDNA Test, Part 2, The Shaky Leafs

FGS Report of my Lang Ancestors
FGS Report of my Lang Ancestors
This is the second post in a series about my AncestryDNA results. In Part 1, I discussed a 3rd cousin match I had found. I found him by looking at my top matches and clicking on one. He was one of two 3rd cousin matches. I clicked on his name, glanced at his tree which contained only 9 people, and immediately identified the connection. Even though I knew right off the bat what our connection was, AncestryDNA did not provide a Shaky Leaf "Hint" because he had not added enough people to his tree (remember I said he had only 9 people in it?). I'm sure that once he starts adding people to his tree, including his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd great-grandparents, whose names I gave to him, a shaky leaf will eventually appear.

The Shaky Leaf and How I found My Next Match

My DNA matches are sorted by relationship by default, with the closest relationships at the top of the list. Although a relationship is predicted, it is not guaranteed that a connection will be found and I will be able to place my match on my family tree. Another way to look at my valuable matches, is to sort by "Hints" represented by, you guessed it, those shaky leafs! In order to see my "Hints" I clicked on the "Hint" filter at the top of the page. This resulted in two pages of matches - about 100 total matches. I found my match to S.A.T. on page 2.

The Relationship Report

When I clicked on S.A.T.'s name, I got a report that told me the following:
  • Our predicted relationship was Distant Cousins
  • There was a Possible Range of 5th - 8th cousins
  • There was a Confidence of Very Low

This looked pretty dreary at first. But then I scrolled down. This is where the Ancestor "Hint" came in. I was presented with a Relationship Report showing me how I was related to my match and who our common ancestor was based on that relationship. According to this relationship report, our common ancestor was John Lang, my 6th Great-Grandfather.

This comparison was run by the Ancestry.com servers (in the background - Ancestry.com people say it's an algorithm). For every match that has a tree, the servers run a side by side comparison between their tree and mine and when they find someone in both trees that looks like the same person and it is a direct ancestor of both people, they determine it to be a "shared ancestor."

Shared Ancestor Hint AncestryDNA
Relationship Report with Ginger Smith on the left and my Match S.A.T. on the right

Finding DNA evidence linking my 5th great-grandmother to John Lang has been pretty instrumental to my research. And evidently, it was instrumental to my match's research as well, so she was pretty excited to learn of the match. We both had conflicting evidence about our Lang/Long ancestors that had yet to be resolved.

My Research Problem - the Lang/Long Conundrum

My 4th great-grandmother, Lucinda Phelps, and her husband, Burwell Binns, moved with their families from Talbot County, Georgia to Drew County, Arkansas about 1856. Lucinda's mother, Basheba Lang/Long and step-father, Green Berry Jackson also moved with them. Burwell died there in 1866 and his wife Lucinda died shortly after in 1870. Both Burwell and Lucinda were buried in Beulah Cemetery in Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas on land they donated to the Beulah Baptist Church.

Basheba and Green Berry died after Lucinda and Burwell, however, their final burial place is unknown at this time, but presumed to also be in the Beulah Church Cemetery. There is a piece of paper that someone tacked up behind the glass at the Beulah Church Cemetery entrance that talks about Lucinda's parents, including her mother, Basheba LONG:

Here is a transcript of this informative paper:

"Basheba LONG married Washington Phelps 21 April 1816 at Randolph GA. We have knowledge of one daughter, Lucinda Phelps, being born to them. 
I. Lucinda Phelps (born 22 Oct 1818 in Jasper Co GA) Lucinda married Burwell Binns II in GA on 29 Oct 1835. The had ten children and this is the Binns family who settled in the Beulah Community of Drew County. The children were: Milton, Sarah, Elizabeth, Lucinda, Matilda, Edna, Mary Jane, Christopher, and Burwell III.
Basheba Phelps married Green Berry (sometimes called Greenberry) Jackson 21 March 1823 in Jasper Co GA. Court records show Green Berry Jackson as being appointed guardian of Lucinda Phelps (dau of Washington Phelps) sometime after 1823. We have knowledge of 4 children belonging to Green Berry and Basheba Jackson and the names of 3. By the time Green Berry and Basheba Jackson got to Arkansas, Basheba was spelling her name Barshaby. We don't know when this family arrived in Drew County; but they were here by 1857. Children of Green Berry and Barshaby Jackson are: ...."

In this write up, Basheba's last name is "LONG." However, on Basheba and Washington's marriage record recorded in Jasper County, Georgia, she is listed as Basheba LANG.

Washington Phelps & Basheba LANG marriage Record Jasper Co GA
Washington Phelps & Basheba LANG Marriage Record Jasper Co GA, 1816
Here is the transcript of the marriage record filed in Jasper Co., Georgia:

Georgia       ))
Jasper County ))

     I certify the within named persons Washington Phelps and Bersheba Lang were duly Solemnized in the holy bond of wedlock by me this 21st day of April 1816. 
                                                              Luke Williams, J. P.
Robert Robey, C.C.O

So far, we now have two conflicting pieces of documentation for Basheba's surname. The paper posted at the cemetery said her last name was LONG and the marriage record said her last name was LANG.

But I wasn't the only one with conflicting documentation. My match had run into similar issues with her family.

My Match Has the Same Lang/Long Conundrum

According to my match, her 2nd great-grandmother was Temperance Lang who was born 1850 in Stone Mountain, DeKalb Co., GA and died 1928 in DeKalb Co., GA. On her death certificate, the informant listed her father's name as John C. LONG, however, on every other record she encountered, including the death certificates of Temperance's siblings, her father's name was listed as John C. LANG.

With DNA testing, we were able to confirm that our two lines were related and that her John C. LANG was the sibling of my Basheba LONG. I had previously connected to another sibling, Lydia Lang via a DNA match as well, so I knew we were on the right path.

In this case, DNA helped to solve two mysteries and hopefully put the Lang/Long conundrum to rest.

As you can guess, I will be looking for additional documentation on my Basheba Long/Lang in order to determine if she changed her name, went by both names, or just didn't bother correcting the county clerks who wrote up various documents for her.

I would love to hear if DNA has helped to resolve any of your name conflicts. Please leave a comment below or email me directly.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My AncestryDNA Test, part 1

AncestryDNA Test Kit
I finally ordered my AncestryDNA kit when it was on sale last month because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Actually, what really happened was that I was helping a couple of people out with their AncestryDNA results and I was really impressed by how well they were finding matches and making connections.

I usually recommended Family Tree DNA as a testing company because they are the most transparent and because they offer testees the most tools with which to analyze their data. But frankly, I had burned myself out a year ago trying to do all that chromosome mapping and analyzing of the numbers.

So late last year I switched tactics. I've been downloading and building out the trees of my matches and looking for intersections between their trees and my own. This is also a very tedious process, but I found that I preferred doing this kind of "research" over just trying to crunch numbers that changed all the time. This process started working better for me. The number of connections I found doubled.

Since this new process of working the trees was working so well for me this past year, I decided I would try my hand at the AncestryDNA test which is based on finding matches within your trees.

Boy was I in for a big surprise!

I was on the site for 10 minutes and in that time I found connections to 3 cousins!

I don't have all the numbers to share with you, like the total number of matches - I actually can't find that. So if anyone knows how to determine what my total number of matches are, please let me know. I can tell you that I have 2 3rd cousin matches! I've already determined the connection to one of them (see below). I have about 3 pages of 4th cousins and the rest (about 253 pages) are distant cousins. 

Let's take a look at one of my 3rd cousin matches:

I clicked on his name. He only has 9 people in his tree, but it was enough to see that yes, we are, in fact, cousins. We descend from a common King line in Howell and Oregon Counties, Missouri. His great-grandfather, WilliamFletcher King, was the brother of my 2nd great-grandmother, Dora King.

So if you've used Ancestry.com to build your family tree, you are all too aware of their little shaky leaves that offer you "hints" of records that might pertain to your ancestors. Well evidently they've applied these hints to your matches as well. Unfortunately,  I did not get a shaky leaf with this match. But I could tell by looking at his little tree where the connection was - Along the King line.

Family Tree of my AncestryDNA Match
Family Tree of my AncestryDNA Match

Then I clicked on “King” inside the yellow box and it brought up a list of King ancestors for each of us. This is very helpful, especially if I have forgotten who my King ancestors were! His King ancestors are on the left and mine are on the right. I am not sure why it did not pull up a relationship chart.

Our King Ancestors
Our King Ancestors

I entered my match into my Family Maker Software, synced with my online tree, and then asked my online tree to calculate my relationship to Mr. King. Here’s what it produced:

Relationship Report between my Match and I
Relationship Report between my Match and I

It says we are 3rd cousins once removed. This lines up with what AncestryDNA predicted which was 3rd cousins. I'm not sure why it chose to display Tabitha House as the common ancestor between us. She was married to Robert King. He is also one of our common ancestors. We share both common ancestors - not just one. 


I always try to remind the people I work with and the people who attend my presentations that they shouldn't stop with just identifying the connection with their matches.

These are some of the Next Steps I take:

1.       Add my match to my tree. If they have additional family members tested, I add them as well
2.       Send him information about who his grandfather’s Virgil’s parents & grandparents were
3.       Ask him to upload to Gedmatch so I can compare our results to another known King cousin  match from ftDNA
4.       Foster the relationship – Exchange photos, stories, and information about your families


Next time I will show you what one of those shaky leaf produces and how I found my first Godwin match.

If you have King ancestors from Oregon or Howell Counties in Missouri, I would love to hear from you.

Email me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Smith Family: putting Y-DNA to work!

I’m very excited to report on the progress of our Smith Y-DNA results!

The DNA Journey

As you are probably aware, researching the Smith Surname has its challenges. It is, after all, the most common surname in America! [1]

Smith number one surname in America
Wikipedia.com - Smith is the No. 1 Surname in America

In order to gain insight into our Smith ancestry, my grandfather took the Y-DNA test back in 2005 with Family Tree DNA. He went several years without a single match. He transferred his results to Ancestry.com a couple of years later and got a match to two people with different surnames. I found it very surprising that he had no matches to anyone with the Smith surname since the Smith Surname Project was boasting to have well over 2000 members at the time. I began to wonder if we really were Smiths after all.

Shocked Face

Then one day he got a couple of matches through Ancestry.com – one to an A. Smith in Perry County, Kentucky and one to an M. Smith in Utah. Mr. M. Smith, however, claimed he was a Smith from an adoption that happened a couple of generations back. (I will come back to this later).

M. Smith was a missionary at the time that I contacted him, so he was unavailable to discuss our match further. I was able to exchange information with A. Smith from Kentucky though. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a connection. And how in the world were we able to find an exact match to a man in Kentucky at the same time as finding one to a man in Utah? These two locations are no where close to each other! 

Google maps - Kentucky to Utah
Google Maps – says it would take 27 hours to drive from Kentucky to Utah

The Genealogy

According to the 1850 Johnson County, Arkansas census report, my ancestor, Richard Smith, was living with his parents, David and Sarah Smith. David Smith was born about 1789 in Tennessee. His wife Sarah Smith was born about 1790 in TN. [2]

1850 Johnson County Arkansas Census Report
 1850 Johnson Co., AR census report showing David Smith and his family

The Cherokee Citizenship Application file of their daughter Sarah Smith Grider indicated that David’s
father’s name was James Smith and that he was a Cherokee Indian. It also listed her mother’s name as Sarah Gallymore, daughter of “Jennie Gallymore, nee Lee.” [3], [4]

According to my grandfather, Richard Smith was born about 18 December 1838 in Blue Springs Cove, Jackson County, Alabama. Unfortunately, I have been able to find any source to prove this and we have been unable to identify either a David Smith or James Smith living in Jackson Co., AL during the 1830s and 40s who fits our family.[5] You can check out my research endeavors in my Alabama Smith References blog post.

Here is a summary of what we are looking for:
·         James Smith born ca 1760
·         James Smith who was in TN about 1790 with a wife and new born son David Smith
·         James Smith who was a Cherokee Indian
·         James and/or David Smith who was in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840

The Y-DNA Bandwagon

Fast forward to the future and now we have 3 additional matches on the Y-DNA with Family Tree DNA. Unfortunately, Ancestry.com has decided to throw away all of their Y-DNA kits, so unless my grandfather’s two matches from Ancestry.com (M Smith and A Smith) transfer their results to Family Tree DNA before September 5th, we are out of luck in using their results to help us determine our Smith ancestry. We managed to get M Smith’s results transferred over, but still waiting for A Smith to make the transfer. In a way, Ancestry’s decision to shut down their Y-DNA support is actually beneficial to us in that now all of our Y-DNA results will be in one place (ftDNA), making management of the results much easier for the Project Administrators.

If A Smith transfers his results from Ancestry to Family Tree DNA, we will have a total of 6 Y-DNA results to compare and use in determining our Smith ancestry. Here is the breakdown of the Smith testees and their genealogies:

#s 1 and 2 are from Alabama
#s 3 and 4 represent the Mormon population, but they disagree somewhat on their origins from Kentucky
#s 5 and 6 are from Kentucky, but they too disagree somewhat

1.      Darrel Smith (my grandfather) - descends from David Edison Smith, b. abt 1789 in TN; was probably residing in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840; Was in Johnson Co., AR by 1850. His father was listed as James Smith on his daughter's Cherokee Application.

2.      Descendant of Patrick Smith, b. abt 1788 AL married a female Lindsay. Possible parentage from James Smith.

3.      Descendant of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee - (unproven - many people claim this is George Thomas Smith from NC but this testee disagrees with this)
1.      Richard Smith married to Diana Braswell - I believe this line moved to Utah?
He is the brother of James Agee Smith who moved to Utah and who is the ancestor of M Smith (# 4 below)

4.      M Smith – Descendant of John W Stephens, though he was given the Smith surname through adoption a couple of generations back. Here is what he claims his ancestry to be: [6]
1. Joshua Stephens
2. Hesekiah Stephens md Margaret Love; (Margaret married also to James Agee Smith)
3. Wm G Stephens md Susan Reynolds
4. John W Stephens*

Margaret was married to both Hesekiah Stephens and James Agee Smith
with Hesekiah Stephens, she had son Wm G Stephens
with James Agee Smith, she had son Thomas Washington Smith
Therefore Wm G Stephens and Thomas Washington Smith are HALF BROTHERS (same mother)

Supposedly, Wm G Stephens died, leaving his widow Susan Reynolds.
Thomas Washington Smith then marries Susan Reynolds who had 3 children with previous husband Wm Stephens. (he was also married to Sarah Bolen)
Thomas adopts the 3 children, thus giving them the Smith surname.
So M Smith is named as a Smith, but he claims he's really a Stephens.

However, he matches my grandfather and he matches to # 3 above!
I did some research and learned that Thomas W Smith was polygamous and was living with 4 wives in 1880.
·        I think that either Thomas Smith and Susan Reynolds really were the parents of John Stephens Smith 
·        James Agee Smith and Margaret Love really were the parents of Wm G Stephens.

5.      Descendant of William Smith and Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie – KY born and bred:
1. Willam Smith - Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie
2. Richard Smith b. 1771 KY - Alicia Combs
3. William Smith
4. William Med Smith, etc.

6.       Descendant of Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff – KY born and bred:
1.      Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff - He refutes # 5s line 1 above and claims William was NOT the father of Richard Smith. He has good proof that Samuel Smith was the father and that Eunice JOLIFF was the mother. I agree with his documentation and conclusions and wrote about them in my “Will of Richard Joliff” blog post on my Smith and Fox blog.
2.      Richard Smith, b. 1771 KY - Etiticia Combs - # 5 above had Richard’s wife as Alicia Combs


So it looks like the Y-DNA is matching up except two of these lines are arguing with each other :-) and the other two (David and Patrick) are kind of left out in the wind. I guess they decided they didn't want to go to Utah to become Mormons or stay behind in Kentucky arguing over whether their ancestor was Samuel or William (I have yet to find a shred of proof of William being said ancestor except that Richard named his first son William).

I am very excited by these results. Even though we have not yet tied these 3 lines together, I am confident that we will find the connection somewhere. Researching the Smith surname is hard enough, but adding James to the mix makes it even more challenging. 

These results are also helping me narrow my research focus in the following ways: 
  1. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick) and their Kentucky roots
  2. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick)
  3. Looking more closely at the records in Utah to solve the Smith-Stephens conundrum
  4. Looking for more Smiths to test in these 3 geographical areas

This is just a start! 

I'm sure you are wondering if we have started incorporating autosomal DNA to our research and the answer is YES! we are. The key to using autosomal DNA is ORGANIZATION. Check back for updates on this endeavor. 



[2] 1850 US Federal Census, Johnson County, Arkansas, population schedule, Horsehead Township, Page 268 (penned), dwelling 98, family 100, David Smith; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : downloaded 2 May 2010); NARA Film M432, Roll 27.
[3] Cherokee Citizenship Application of Sarah Smith Grider, 1896, Arkansas, National Archives. Copies mailed to me by Mike Freels, 2008.
[4] Surprisingly enough, the surname of the two men that my grandfather initially matched to on the Y-DNA in Ancestry.com was “Lee.”
[5] Personal correspondence with Darrel Smith, 2008. He said his date and place of birth were recorded in Richard Smith’s enlistment files but I have been unable to locate them.
[6] Mark Smith, [email withheld for privacy], to Ginger R Smith, grs3275[at]yahoo.com, Email, “Smith DNA,” 15 April 2011.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So you want to start a business as a professional genealogist?

This has been on my mind for quite some time now. But honestly, I haven't really done much about it. I did take the 18 month long ProGen class online which studies Elizabeth Shown Mills' Professional Genealogy book. I learned how to write a business plan and client contracts and how to set my fees. I networked with other "transitional" professional genealogists. But there's still so many unanswered questions plaguing my mind.

To help ease my anxiety, I joined the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) group. It consists of both Professional Genealogists and Transitional Genealogists who might like to become Professional some day. It is a great learning tool. The APG offers a multitude of networking and learning platforms: They have newsletters, journals, webinars, online discussion groups, a mailing list and several location-based or virtual chapters. I think the best part of APG for me so far has been the networking aspect. Although, don't be fooled; I still do my best to lurk in the shadows, but boy, let me tell you, when I'm ready, I will pop out of my shell in full force!

I have already attended a couple of live webinars by national speakers and the past APG webinars are archived in their Members-Only section of their website. Last night I attended an online discussion group which is a place where APGers can mingle, interact, and ask each other questions about what they do and how they do it.

Several topics were discussed at last night's meeting. The first topic stemmed from a member question about websites. The question was: I've built my website, now what? Knowing how to market yourself and your website is always a challenge. The moderator suggested that you keep your website up to date with the correct contact details. She also suggested to create a bio that includes more than just your name and contact information. This applies to your APG profile as well. Include items such as your locality and document research specialties, some education background, and maybe some additional personal information. For some examples of detailed APG profiles check out the following:
Amy Arner
Rich Venezia

Marketing a website can be particularly challenging, but actually putting yourself out there in front of other people may be even more challenging for all of us introverted genealogy types. The moderator stressed the idea of networking, not just with potential clients, but with other genealogists. A lot of your work will come from referrals from other genealogists. This was especially crucial in our moderator's experience. She said her business took about 5 years to take off and now she has a waiting list. I have to admit I am absolutely thrilled when I talk to other APGers who have waiting lists! That's where I want to be someday!

Most of the people who participated in the discussion group were bloggers. When the subject of websites came up, some people asked if it was better to have a standalone website in addition to your blog or if it was ok to combine them. The moderator admitted she doesn't even have a website. She gets most of her business from the APG website and from referrals from other genealogist colleagues. I get a lot of research requests from my blog, probably because I am a diversified writer and because I put myself out there, including adding in my bio that I pull records from the State Archives on a volunteer basis. My blog has also been around for a long time, too, which I think has helped. I plan to incorporate my website with my blog when the time comes. Marian Pierre-Louis' archived webinar was mentioned about this topic so I will have to check that out. Lastly, it was suggested to watch YouTube videos on how to build websites if you are hesitant or not sure how to go about setting one up.

The question of fees always comes up in discussions about starting a business. When I took the ProGen class, we learned a mathematical formula to help us determine our fees. But really, the best way to do it is to cruise the internet to see what others in your area are charging. Of course, we learned that it is actually difficult to do, so you might want to try either asking your friends what they would pay or if you are close to other professional genealogists, asking them what they charge. It really is a close knit society and you want to be competitive, but you also don't want to undercut your competitors.

Lastly, it wouldn't be a discussion about starting a business if you didn't talk about Sole Proprietor vs LLC and TAXES. I believe everyone in the discussion group was a Sole Proprietor. It was suggested this was the best thing to do when you first start out. We learned about the Small Business Development Centers run by the Small Business Administration. This program allows you to learn about Small Business stuff through your local college and universities. You can also check out the books offered on Nolo.com or check them out from your local library.

We covered a lot of topics in last night's discussion. I'm looking forward to participating in more of these as I get more comfortable with the idea of starting, and running my own business.

Photo: downloaded from 4vector.com

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Online Deed Records - North Carolina

The Register of Deeds Office - A Free Alternative  

Many Register of Deeds Offices are digitizing their historical deeds and land grants and putting them online. Several North Carolina counties have already been digitized. Here is a list of counties who currently have their deeds digitized and available to download from the web FOR FREE.

Alamance County - still in the process of being digitized, goes back to 1849 (as of June 2014)
Alexander County - Digitized deeds going back to 1847
Alleghany County - Digitized deeds going back to 1859
Anson County - digitized deeds going back to 1749
Chatham County - digitized deeds going back to 1771
Cumberland County - - digitized deeds going back to 1754
Duplin County - digitized deeds going back to 1749
Forsyth County - digitized deeds going back to 1849
Guilford County - digitized deeds going back to 1771. Click "real estate index & image", Accept the disclaimer, then click the "Old Index books" button
Iredell County - Digitized deeds going back to 1788. Select “Search Online Records” in center of page, Sign in as a Guest, and click on Indexes Prior to 1964 tab
Johnston County - digitized deeds going back to 1789, land division records, plats
Martin County - digitized deeds going back to 1771
Mecklenburg County - digitized deeds going back to 1763
Sampson County
Stokes County -  digitized deeds going back to 1787
Wake County - digitized deeds going back to 1785

Check back with this site often for updates to newly added Counties! - 
* Alexander, Alleghany, Iredell, Wake, Forsyth, and Guilford added 23 Jun 2014!!!

You can also follow my Pinterest Board - North Carolina Deeds and Land Grants - to receive updates to newly added counties.

Many thanks to everyone writing in with new updated links!!!

Additional Information: Check out these helpful posts

Reading land grants in North Carolina which uses Metes and Bounds
Finding Land Grants using the North Carolina State Archives' Online Catalog (MARS)
North Carolina Land and Property from the FamilySearch.org Wiki
Why Use Deeds and Land Grants in YOUR research