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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Looking at the real end of the line

Every ancestral line ends. Even if you think you can trace your ancestry "back to Adam," you still have to admit that you need to stop there. Realistically, the end is nigh or a lot closer than Adam. I decided to look at a few of my own family lines as shown on the Family Tree and show the "actual" end of each of these selected lines to illustrate how and why they end where they do end. In each case, I will first show the last individual in that particular surname line and then show the actual end according to the records available. In most cases, this will be fairly easy because once there are no listed sources the line, for all practical purposes, ends.

So, here we go with the first end of line situation.

Someone would have me believe that my Linton line goes back to William de Linton, born in 1385 in an English castle. The Lintons were dirt poor Scotch/Irish tenant farmers who left Northern Ireland in the mid- to early 1800s to come to America. They were not descendants of nobility. The actual end of line is presently the following person:

The reason William Linton born about 1801 is the end of the line is that from this point on there are no source showing his birth or marriage and his parents are unknown despite the fact that there are generations of ancestors going back to the 1300s.

Next example,

Even with two sources this is the imaginary end of the line. The real end of the line has several sources listed, however, there are no sources that show this person's parents. The Family Tree shows a christening in Winwick, Lancashire, England but there are apparently no sources shown substantiating that record or indicating who might be his parents. So, right now, the line ends in 1720, not somewhere back in time.

The next example is one that is not obvious unless you take the time to examine the sources and think about what is and what is not there. Here is the remote, supposedly end of line, ancestor.

It is possible that an English line, such as this one, could go back to the late 1500s. Afterall, there are ten sources. But the actual end of line in this situation is as follows:

The reason for this end of line is that Peter Ellison is shown with two fathers with the same name and two different marriages. I am not saying that some research wouldn't resolve this issue, I am just saying that as the record now shows, there is no way to determine the identity of Peter's father.

I could go on and on. In each of these cases, the sources fail to support a further extension of the family line past the person I identified and being the real end of line person. What do we do with these situations?

First, we do more research and see if the line can realistically be extended past the point at which thee are records of the next generation. Next, we either correct the record in the Family Tree or cut off all of the people past the point at which the Family Tree fails to contain information sufficient to support that extension.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Serving a Family History Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has two main options for volunteers who wish to serve missions: Part-time Church Service Missionaries and Full-time Missionaries. Opportunities are available both to young men and women and for older married couples and individuals. Both my wife and I have been serving as Family History Church Service Missionaries for some time. We are now in the process of switching to full-time missionary service.

If you are interested in genealogy and family history, you will find many opportunities available to serve a family history oriented mission. As explained in the above blog post article, there are missionaries needed in many different areas of the world and for many different positions. Quoting from the article linked above:
The many available missionary opportunities available that center on several key areas and initiatives. Here’s a sampling of how missionaries are helping to advance the cause of family history:
  • Records Preservation–Missionaries preserve historical records from archives, government buildings, and libraries the world over. These records contain evidence that is crucial for learning a family story. This service opportunity is primarily for full-time couples to serve together throughout the world.
  • Records Operation Centers (ROC)–Missionaries process records and prepare them for indexing. There are currently six ROC locations where missionaries can serve, and there will soon be a serve-at-home option.
  • Patron Support from Home–Missionaries provide research and FamilySearch site assistance from their home to patrons over the phone, online, and via email.
According to Arthur Johnson, workforce development manager for FamilySearch, this opportunity is currently a top priority. “There is a need right now for members to serve from home assisting patrons with their FamilySearch questions,” he says.
  • Temple Square–Missionaries provide family history support on Temple Square and work with FamilySearch employees on special projects. They serve in the Family History Library, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the Church History Library.
  • FamilySearch Libraries–Missionaries provide research assistance and FamilySearch help to patrons in local areas. There are currently 15 locations available.
  • Wiki–Missionaries writer or manage family history tips and instruction about areas of research on the FamilySearch Wiki.
My wife and I choose to apply for positions as Record Preservation Specialists and, although there are no guarantees concerning a specific calling, consideration is given for interests and qualifications in making assignments. We were subsequently called by the Church as Record Preservation Specialists in the Washington, D.C. North Mission to help digitize records in the Maryland State Archives.

There are, admittedly, a number of concerns that can be raised when considering a full-time mission as a "senior" couple. Since we have both been serving for years as Church Service Missionaries, the transition to full-time service does not seem as much of a challenge as it might otherwise appear. It also helps that we both have extensive backgrounds in computers, records, scanning, digitizing and family history.

After filling out our applications to serve as full-time missionaries, we "submitted the applications" once we had our interviews with our Bishop and Stake President. Our call to the Washington, D.C. North Mission came earlier than expected, but we still had a few months until we were supposed to report to the Missionary Training Center, right down the street from where we presently live.

It turns out that having this time to prepare was necessary and valuable. There were a number of arrangements that had to be made. For example, we will be gone for a year and we need to move our mail, especially bills, from paper to online. Moving banking, bill paying, mail and everything else online turns out to be a challenge, especially with banks. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, we needed time to prepare even though we didn't think so before we started the process.

For some, leaving family and especially grandchildren might be a challenge. But our children live all over the U.S. and we are used to traveling long distances to see them and they are used to traveling to see us. We might even see some of our children more being on the East Coast than we might by staying in Provo.

We are very happy for the opportunity to serve in the Washington, D.C. area and are looking forward to making new friends and helping as many people as we can find their ancestors along with the opportunity to digitize a lot of valuable records for FamilySearch.

Note: As I have written previously, I have decided to use this Rejoice blog to comment on and report on our mission. I will continue to write as I have time and the opportunity to do so.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mobile Access to the Consultant Planner
The Family Tree app is available for both iOS and Android devices. You can find the app in the App Gallery or in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. This useful app has now been made even more useful by the addition of access to the Consultant Planner. The short explanation linked above has the instructions for finding the Consultant Planner in the App.

Here are links to two instructional videos about the Consultant Planner from the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.

FamilySearch Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp

The FamilySearch Consultant Planner For: Find, Take, Teach, and Beyond - Kathryn Grant

Friday, November 17, 2017

Our Upcoming Adventure in Record Preservation

Some time ago, my wife and I began the process of volunteering to serve as full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many people around the world have become accustomed to seeing young missionaries traveling around two-by-two. These younger missionaries are primarily proselyting to find people to join the church. Some senior missionaries also act in this capacity. However, for senior missionaries, there are a variety of other challenging opportunities to serve. In our case, we wished to serve in some capacity associated with our main interest in family history and genealogy. As result, we found an opportunity to serve as Record Preservation missionaries.

Full-time missionary service for senior missionaries, most commonly retired couples, can be for six months, 12 months, 18 months or longer. The variety of callings available is remarkable. You can discover information about available positions on the website. Specifically, we wanted to serve a mission associated with the activities of FamilySearch. Both of us, have been serving as Church Service Missionaries for some time now.

As it states in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 4:3, "Therefore if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work…" Most callings in the Church come from the leaders to the members, however, senior missionary callings rely on the members volunteering to serve. Because of this, we sought out a specific calling to assist in the digitization of the world's records.

The process of submitting the information necessary to receive a mission call is simplified by having the entire process online. There are some minimal requirements concerning health and availability. Filling out the online forms and acquiring the necessary information took only a short period of time. Our mission call came much quicker than expected. However, we were given, what appeared to be, a rather long time to prepare to leave. We were called to the Washington DC North Mission, appropriately located in the Washington DC area.  Our specific calling was to serve as Record Preservation Specialists for a period of one year, at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, Maryland. It is not always the case, that the missionaries are called to the place or area they specify; this is made very clear in the application process.

We are very grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Record presentation is the fundamental driving force behind all of the online records now available for genealogical research. FamilySearch has hundreds of missionary couples serving around the world participating in this important work.
For more information about FamilySearch and Record Preservation, see the following links.
Many people have asked me if I will write about our mission. Rather than do a separate newsletter to all of our friends, I have decided to incorporate a "report" about our mission in this blog. Stay tuned. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sign in will be required for all users on

Note: I do not usually reproduce the same blog post on both of my blogs, but this is an exception because of the far-reaching changes imposed by FamilySearch on their website.

Beginning December 13, 2017, for a number of very good reasons, the highly visited website will begin requiring users to sign in before using the website. The announcement came in a blog post entitled, "FamilySearch Free Sign-in Offers Greater Subscriber Experiences and Benefits." Quoting from the post:
Beginning December 13, 2017, patrons visiting will see a prompt to register for a free FamilySearch account or to sign in to their existing account to continue enjoying all the free expanded benefits FamilySearch has to offer. Since its launch in 1999, FamilySearch has added millions of users, billions of various historical records, and many fun, new features like Family TreeMemoriesmobile appsdigital books, and dynamic help. In order to accommodate continued growth of these and future free services, FamilySearch must assure all its partners that its content is offered in a safe and secure online environment. Patrons creating a free account and signing in fulfills that need.

Patron sign in will also enable FamilySearch to satisfy the ongoing need for user authentication. This authentication can deliver rich, personalized discovery, collaboration, and help experiences. Simply put, signed-in visitors can access more searchable content and enjoy more personalized services.
The online world is rapidly changing as circumstances mandate a higher level of website security. Requiring all of the users to sign on will not change the user experience but it will help to preserve the integrity of the website.

More than finding the names

Family history is about more than just finding the names of our ancestors. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, discovering their ancestral heritage is more than just a hobby or pastime. It is a fundamental part of our religious belief. As Joseph Smith stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 128, verses 17 and 18:
17 And again, in connection with this quotation I will give you a quotation from one of the prophets, who had his eye fixed on the restoration of the priesthood, the glories to be revealed in the last days, and in an especial manner this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel, namely, the baptism for the dead; for Malachi says, last chapter, verses 5th and 6th: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 
18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands. It is sufficient to know, in this case, that the earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the fathers and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.
This is a personal responsibility and apparently, there is no way to transfer this responsibility to another person. Your great aunt or grandmother or whoever may have "done all the work" for your ancestors, which, by the way, would have been and is presently impossible, but if you are a member of the Church, you still have the same exact responsibility today. Fortunately, as Rodney DeGiulio, senior vice president over FamilySearch records recently observed, “The Lord is hastening His work, and the tools and capabilities available are being poured out to us through His Spirit.” How is this work being hastened?

First of all, it is not us doing the hastening. We are merely participants or in most cases nonobservant bystanders to the hastening. It is the Lord who is hastening the work and we can either participate or lose the blessings. It is as simple as that. As Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said back in October 2013 as reported in an Ensign magazine article published in October 2014, entitled, "Missionary, Family History, and Temple Work,"
Enabling the exaltation of the living and the dead is the Lord’s purpose for building temples and performing vicarious ordinances. We do not worship in holy temples solely to have a memorable individual or family experience. Rather, we seek to fulfill the divinely appointed responsibility to offer the ordinances of salvation and exaltation to the entire human family. Planting in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; turning the hearts of the children to their own fathers; and performing family history research and vicarious ordinances in the temple are labors that bless individuals in the spirit world not yet under covenant.
As Elder Bednar further stated in the same article.
Some individuals may wonder how both preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead can be simultaneously the greatest duties and responsibilities God has placed upon His children. My purpose is to suggest that these teachings highlight the unity and oneness of the latter-day work of salvation. Missionary work and family history and temple work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work, “that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10).
One of the most evident effects of this hastening is the what Rod DeGulio said about "tools and capabilities." Those tools include a marvelous array of tools including those on two of the Church's websites, and It is interesting that the statistics gathered by the Church show that only a very small minority of the members of the Church are even using these two tools to submit the names of their ancestors to the temples.

In addition, this hastening has included resource tools such as The Family History Guide, the official FamilySearch traning partner and an official correlation approved resource as linked from Not too surprisingly, very few members of the Church have even become aware of these tools and resources. There are over 100 additional programs listed in the App Gallery.

Until each member of the Church takes the iniative to begin the work of salvation for their own ancestors and relatives, they are not really helping the hastening of the work.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Puzzilla Premium: A Dramatic Increase in Utility
It is not uncommon for software developers to promote both a free and paid version of their program. Sometimes, the free version is limited in some way that makes buying the full version of the program an obvious decision. has a free level and a premium or subscription level and the premium level has so many more features that buying the full or premium version of the program is an obvious decision.

When it was introduced, the basic or free version brought genealogists an innovative way of viewing the information contained in the Family Tree. The Premium version of the program extends those features by adding extensive functionality. Through the Brigham Young University Library, we have done a number of videos that demonstrate the features of the Premium version of the program. Here are the some of them.

Getting the Most Out of Puzzilla Premium by Judy Sharp

Puzzilla Premium by James Tanner

10-Descendancy Research in Puzilla - Judy Sharp

Strategies for Finding an Ancestor Through Descendancy Research by Judy Sharp