Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #9 Research on the FamilySearch Family Tree #4

Exploring Genealogy Series #9 Research on the FamilySearch Family Tree #4

Yes, this is another in the Exploring Genealogy Series. This video continues with the research of the Alexander Bragg family and I begin my focus on my direct line ancestor Sarah Bragg who apparently has a number of research issues and a possible second marriage. This particular video series documents my thought process in examining a particular family in the Family Tree. Because this is a multipart series, it may seem like I am moving rather slowly, but I am demonstrating each of the issues that need to be addressed when researching a family. From a superficial look at the Family Tree, you might conclude that "all the research had been done" on this family. But as my examination proceeds, you can see all of the issues that come to light including wrongly indexed records and problems with dates and the need to standardize dates and places.

This video, along with the others in this series are on my YouTube Channel.
If you search for the Channel, you need to search for "James Tanner Channel" and then you will see about a half a dozen "james tanners" and you can spot me from my photo. But I will continue to link the channel from these blog posts. If you subscribe to the Channel then you can find it readily from your subscription list on

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Still Waiting for those Golden Years: Avoiding Frauds and Scams

I recently read an article in the Deseret News entitled, "Does Utah deserve the title 'fraud capital of the United States'?" According to the study cited in the article, the answer to the question was yes, Utah is the fraud capital of the United States. I really didn't need a newspaper article to make me aware of that fact. Utah and particularly Utah Valley, where I now live, have had that reputation for many years. The study cited only referred to Ponzi schemes, but there are a lot more frauds out there to catch the unprepared and unwary.

Over the years as a practicing trial attorney in Arizona, I encountered a sizable number of instances of fraud and not surprisingly, quite a few originated in Utah. In fact, some of the first clients I had, right out of law school, were involved in a huge land sales fraud called Lake Havasu Estates.  See "Land Fraud Target of U.S. Crackdown." That particular fraud instigated an overhaul of the land sale regulation in the United States. That particular fraud did not originate in Utah, it involved land in Arizona. It took a while to stop these types of sales. See "18 Indicted in Arizona Land Fraud Costing 10,000 Victims $40 Million." This one was called the Cochise College Park land fraud.

I still fail to understand how so many people can be defrauded of so much money. I was recently in a meeting here in Utah Valley with about 4- or 50 people who were mostly older than I am. The question was asked as to how many of these individuals had lost money due to fraud. To my surprise, I saw more than half of the peoples' hands go up.

I have a naturally inquisitive and suspicious nature. I learned long ago that is an offer or deal seemed too good to be true, it almost always was a fraud or scam. When do sales practices cross over into fraud and scams? When what is being sold or represented has little or no value and may even be detrimental to the buyer. The current classic example is the Nigerian Prince scam. Quoting from the Australian website in an article entitled Nigerian Scams.
Nigerian scams involve someone overseas offering you a share in a large sum of money or a payment on the condition you help them to transfer money out of their country. While these scams originated in Nigeria, they now come from all over the world.
There is a long list of variations on this basic scam. This category of scam is called the "unexpected money or winnings" scam. It has a lot of different forms that include rebate scams and inheritance scams.

The classic Ponzi Scheme involves a proposed investment where the rate of return is much better than what could usually be expected and the first "investors" get a better than expected return which is paid from the subsequent investments of new investors until the entire structure collapses. The challenge of detecting these scams is that the perpetrators are usually people who are either well known to the victims or closely associated with people who are well known. The greed and duplicity of the victim is the core of almost all successful scams and frauds.

If someone steals your money or property without your knowledge or agreement the crime is theft. If you rely on representations made to you and willingly turn over your property and then lose it, that is fraud. A scam is the mechanism for committing a fraud.

So how can you avoid being defrauded?

Obviously, the victims of fraud are more common among those with diminished capacity. But anyone lets emotion overcome reason can be a victim. This is usually the case with frauds committed by people who are in your same religious or social organization. These are called affinity frauds. You trust the person because he or she is a known member of your organization. In every case, the person perpetrating the fraud first gains your trust in some way.

Here are five basic rules for avoiding frauds and scams:

#1 If it sounds too good to true, it probably isn't

High rates of return on investments usually are made by people who understand exactly what is at risk and make a judgment call to invest.

#2 If it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, you probably will lose money on the deal

As I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, there was a common lament; if I had just invested in property along Camelback Road, I would be rich now.  Yes, that would be possibly true but it ignores the fact that some people did invest in property along Camelback Road and other parts of the Salt River Valley and made a lot of money. Why did these people make money when you did not? Probably because they had money to invest and knew enough to invest in land. But as I mentioned above, there were plenty of people who bought land in Arizona and lost all of their investment even when there was not any fraud.

#3 If you have to decide right now or the opportunity will go away, then waiting will save you a lot of grief

Fraudulent schemes almost always come with a deadline for investment with the idea that there will not be enough time for the victim to reflect on the "opportunity" or consult with those who may be able to detect the fraud. If an investment is good today, then it will probably be good tomorrow. If you had purchased stock in Apple Computer years ago, you would be rich today is not the basis for making an investment today. Most sound investment strategies involve investing in a variety of areas that include stocks, real estate, and other time-honored investments.

#4 Don't lend money to relatives with the expectation of every being repaid 

If you do get repaid consider it a bonus. Many frauds are committed by family members. It is possible that your family member has a legitimate investment opportunity, but if he or she does, then they certainly won't mind having their investment proposal reviewed by an attorney and an accountant.

#5 Never give personal or financial information to anyone without knowing exactly who they are and why the information is needed

Most online frauds are based on obtaining personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. Simply make an ironclad rule that you never give that kind of information to anyone unless you initiate the contact. Even if someone calls representing that they are calling from your bank if you did not initiate the call then terminate the contact immediately and call your bank or whatever directly on a publically available number to verify the contact. What is better is to go to the bank or other institution and ask them about the contact.

This rules will go a long way towards avoiding being defrauded. But remember, stop and think before you act.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #8 Researching the FamilySearch Family Tree #3

Exploring Genealogy Series #8 Researching the FamilySearch Family Tree #3

This is a continuation of the Exploring Genealogy Video Series. In this segment, I continue with the research I started on the Family Tree. I find that there are no sources supporting the relationship between the two direct line ancestors I have chosen and I start working my way forward in time to see if there is something connecting Sarah Bragg to her father in the Family Tree.

Thanks for watching this video. Please take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can get notified of new videos as they are uploaded.

The idea with this video sub-series is to demonstrate, in detail, how I examine, correct, and research the entries in the Family Tree. If you would like to request a particular topic or want me to do a video answering a particular question, let me know by posting a comment.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Problem of Hoarding Ordinances on the FamilySearch Family Tree

I was given a recent reminder of the problem of hoarding ordinances on the Family Tree when I read an email raising a question about another user of the Family Tree that had over 28,000 names reserved. I understand the there are users with reserved lists with substantially more names than 28,000 and the highest number I have heard discussed was over 600,000. Despite the difficulty in imagining that anyone could do that much research and verify that many names, there is the basic problem that no one person or family or ward or stake could do that many names in many years.

Recently, there has been some statements, including a presentation by Ron Tanner of FamilySearch, that there will be an imposed limit on the number of names that can be reserved. Numbers like those above also raise some serious issues about the quality of the work being done. I am well aware of people who are doing "private extractions" of thousands of names from European records and I am not doubting their sincerity and dedication, but when the numbers get up into the tens of thousands, I can only question the validity and accuracy of that many records done by the same individual.

There is also a fear that limits will impose some disincentives and slow down the Temple work. But with the Ordinances Ready program, family members are supposed to go online and get their own names so there is no need for a huge reserved list. In fact, with the Ordinances Ready app, family members will likely get the same names that are released or shared with the Temples. The council from some time has been to reserve only as many ordinances as you can be sure to finish in a reasonable amount of time. See

Just recently, the expiration date of the ordinances has been appearing on Temple lists, but there is nothing yet about a number limit. If you start to see a number limit, let me know.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Family History Library to Add Sunday and Longer Monday Hours to Schedule

In an interesting development that has been discussed for some time, the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library has announced extended hours and for the first time, Sunday opening. Here is the announcement.
Family History Library to Add Sunday and Longer Monday Hours to Schedule 
The FamilySearch Family History Library, one of Salt Lake City’s top attractions and the world’s largest genealogy library, will extend its hours of operation beginning Sunday, June 2, 2019. For the first time, the main floor of the library, including the FamilySearch Discovery Experiences, will be open on Sundays, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and extended to 9:00 p.m. on Mondays. Regular library hours will be Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The library is free to the public. 
The addition of Sunday hours and extended Monday hours will allow more individuals and families to take advantage of the library’s rich, fun, and interactive discovery activities. On Sundays, services will be limited to the main floor of the library, with its immersive, interactive discovery experiences and 68 computers that provide free access to premium family history websites and digital collections. Guest support will be provided by a research specialist and local consultants. On Monday through Saturday, the library will be fully staffed and will continue to offer full services on all floors. 
“Family history is a family activity,” explained David Rencher, the director of the Family History Library. “We are excited to extend our hours so that families can better connect, discover, and gather their families—both living and dead.” 
Through fun, hands-on activities, the 10,000 square feet of discovery experiences at the Family History Library provide people of all ages a personal way to explore and experience their heritage. The attraction offers more than 100 custom iPads, 44 touch-screen monitors, and 42 computers. Six recording studios enable guests to create free, high-definition audio and video recordings of family members and preserve treasured memories for future generations. 
The library serves hundreds of thousands of guests yearly from all parts of the world. They come specifically seeking elusive ancestors in the family tree or are merely curious to see what they can discover about themselves while passing through Salt Lake City. In addition to free access to the world’s historical genealogical records, the library also offers free family history classes and webinars on various topics and accommodates field trips, bus tours, and group events. 
“We are always looking at ways to make our amazing resources more accessible to our guests and to make their visit to the library more inviting and welcoming,” said Lynn Turner, a manager at the Family History Library. 
The Family History Library is located at 35 North West Temple Street in downtown Salt Lake City, west of Historic Temple Square. The phone number is 1-801-240-6996.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Exploring Genealogy Series #7 Part Two: Researching in the FamilySearch Family Tree

Exploring Genealogy Series #7 Part Two Researching the FamilySearch Family Tree

This is Part Two of my Researching the FamilySearch Family Tree segments of the Exploring Genealogy Series. In this segment, I start to get into some of the major challenges of working with the FamilySearch Family Tree. By examining the details of the entries, I find out that there are some children in my target family that were added by FamilySearch with the Internation Genealogical Index or IGI records. I also find a mistake in the indexing of a record that refers to another direct line ancestor. This is only the beginning of this series and I am sure I will find more problems and challenges to resolve. By watching me work on these entries, you can see exactly how I approach each problem.

This is an ongoing part of the Exploring Genealogy Series and you are invited to subscribe.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

More Show Me Videos on The Family History Guide
Show Me videos are relatively short audio and visual illustrations of each the Goals in The Family History Guide. Here is a screenshot of where they are found on the website.

The blog post mentions six of the Show Me videos, but there are more being completed every few days. Here is the list of the six that are posted as of the date of this post.

  • Projects Overview—How to navigate the Goals and Choices in the Projects of The Family History Guide.
  • Project 1: Goal 1—Learn FamilySearch Project 1, Goal 1, including sign-in, basic navigation, and privacy rules.
  • Project 1: Goal 2—Learn about Summary Cards, Person Pages, charts, and Time Lines.
  • Project 1: Goal 3—Learn about viewing details for children and spouses, as well as the Family Members section of the Person Page.
  • Project 1: Goal 4—Learn to use the Find menu and Recents menu to quickly locate people in your tree.
  • Project 1: Goal 5—Learn how to use alternate views, such as Portrait, Fan Chart, Virtual Pedigree, etc.
The Show Me videos follow the text of the website in a narrative format. We have elected to use a computer-generated voice because it will be easier over time to update the videos. Here is our YouTube Channel.