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

Friday, September 30, 2016

Your New Logged In Homepage on
The Infographic above explains the elements of the new "Logged-in Homepage" for users. If you have opted for the Beta test of this format, you might be familiar with the layout and the elements. The ideas behind the new layout are explained in a FamilySearch blog post entitled, "New FamilySearch Design: Log In to Try It Out." As a side note, it would probably be a good idea if those writing about FamilySearch avoid the term "New FamilySearch" for a while until any possible confusion with the old program goes away. Here is a short quote from the post.
Regular users of FamilySearch may notice something different when they log in: we’ve changed things up a bit. 
A new logged-in design makes your time on FamilySearch more about you. You’ll see a history of what you have done lately, you’ll find hints about your ancestors we may have found in historical records, and you’ll discover the latest photos and stories added by your relatives. The new design has been rolled out to most users, and all users should see it within the next few weeks. 
The page is split in two: the left side is focused on inspiration while the right side provides tools and insights into your family history journey. Let’s take a look at each section.
I have already written a blog post about one of the new features in my post entitled, "The Mystery of "?" on the FamilySearch Family Tree." This problem showed up as a "Recommended Task" on my "new" startup page. Today the task has changed to the following:

It is sort of ironic that FamilySearch came up with this task since I have just written two blog posts on Genealogy's Star about the difficulties with this particular family and that particular record with the original image, had already been attached as a source. Hmm. Also, this particular box changes every time you return to the page. I can foresee some confusion over the fact that the content of the items change constantly.

However, there are some very helpful additions such as a "To-do" list and a list of some of the recent additions to the Family Tree and Memories. So don't be put off by this change, it is a good idea and gives some interesting insights into the website.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

FamilySearch and Twile Add Link for Timelines and have recently made the following announcement:
DONCASTER, UK and SALT LAKE CITY, UT (September 28, 2016)—Twile and FamilySearch International have announced the launch of a new feature that will let users generate a family history timeline and share their research with other family members online. The timeline is designed to make research and discoveries more engaging for the broader family—especially younger generations—and to encourage collaboration. 
Connecting securely to, Twile imports a user’s tree and automatically adds events, such as births and marriages, to a personal, interactive timeline of their family history. Users can then browse the timeline, add photos, and share it privately with other family members. 
By presenting a family tree as a timeline, Twile makes it easier for the non-genealogists in a family to explore their ancestry through events, stories, and pictures. It also encourages collaboration by letting them add missing details, their own life events, and recent photos.
It does not appear that the link to FamilySearch gives the FamilySearch Family Tree user, LDS or not, a "free" premium version of the program. It does however, seamlessly import a portion of your Family Tree data from  The notice I got said my trial version would expire in 30 days. The current price of the "Premium" version is $49.99 a year. A family subscription includes anyone on your family tree and is $124.99 a year. I am not sure that the family version has been thought through completely because on the Family Tree, everyone in the world is on "my" family tree. The free version allows 10 milestones and photos per month, while the Premium version has unlimited uploads.

The imported timeline immediately caught my interest because it had a fact that was inaccurate. One of my living siblings was shown with the wrong husband. I immediately realized that this information could only have come from the Family Tree and sure enough, the entry was inaccurate. However, since they are "living" they will have to make the change themselves, if they ever look at the family tree. However, since the living people are in my "Private Space" I can make the change for my own viewing.

Here is the official information about the program.
Twile is a UK-based interactive timeline of your family’s past, present, and future. The timeline consists of photos and milestones—such as births, marriages and deaths—that tell the story of your family from your earliest known ancestor right through to today. Family historians can import their family tree from FamilySearch and then add more recent events from their own life before inviting their family members to explore and contribute. 
While the Twile website is aimed primarily at family historians, it is also designed to encourage the rest of the family to add their own content, including the younger generations. Since its beginnings, Twile has been backed by Creative England, a number of UK angel investors and Findmypast, with whom they partnered in February 2016. Twile was the winner of two innovation awards at RootsTech 2016, including People’s Choice.
Timelines are an interesting way to view family history information. My wife and I are in the middle of making our own timeline to sort out all of the events in our own lives. They are also useful for spotting obvious errors such as the one I pointed out above.

141 Million New Record Hints Added to the FamilySearch Family Tree is continually adding new Record Hints to the Family Tree as new records are indexed and added to the database of the Historical Record Collections. In a recent post entitled, "141 Million New Ancestor Hints Added to FamilySearch Family Tree," FamilySearch explained the importance of the Record Hints.
Hints matter because they can make it easier for you to discover your ancestors in historical records. Finding out when people were born, where they lived, details about a marriage or a death can lead to other discoveries that all work together to help tell your family story. And it is interesting to learn about what your ancestors’ lives were like, details that are often preserved in these types of records. 
Normally, you would search the FamilySearch collection of records for information on each ancestor separately. With hinting, FamilySearch conducts a search for you and delivers results you can review and even compare with information already in the tree. These records often identify individuals who can be added to the tree, or they help provide a solid source of information about an ancestor already in the tree.
I have found the Record Hints to be an invaluable aid to extending and clarifying my own family lines. Although I have to examine each Record Hint to be assured that it applies to my ancestor, I do find them to be very accurate. For those users who are searching for Temple opportunities, I suggest spending time adding the Record Hints to your ancestors. This process alone is calculated to find new people, not previously added to the Family Tree. But be careful, because not all of the Record Hints are correct despite their overall accuracy.

In most cases, it is most important to make sure that the locations mentioned in the Record Hints match up with the places where events in your ancestors' lives actually occurred. The Record Hints have become a huge time saver. Rather than spend my own time looking for pertinent records. I can quickly add and use the information provided by the Record Hint technology.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Unconnected People on the FamilySearch Family Tree

One way to visualize the Family Tree is to think of it as huge forest of pedigrees, all with interconnected branches surrounded by a cloud of unconnected individuals and floating bits of other predigrees. Living people form the individual trees in the forest. Their ancestors are part of forest canopy that is all intertwined and ultimately related, but the cloud of unconnected individuals are either duplicates of people already in the forest canopy or people waiting to be connected to the forest. The most important thing to understand about this forest with its unending canopy is that there is an absolute place or node for each person who ever lived on the face of the earth or ever will live on the earth. One single place, no matter how complex the connections to other nodes.

Practically speaking, when you open the Family Tree for the first time, you either find yourself as an unconnected new sprouted tree or already firmly anchored to the canopy as part of a more developed tree. If you explore all the branches of what you can see of the forest, you will find them virtually unending. We arbitrarily define some of the branches as ancestors and relatives, but in reality, we are all related either by blood or marriage or both and ultimately can trace our trees back to common ancestors in the canopy. I like to think of the forest and the canopy as fractals where the individual branches just keep getting more and more complicated as they branch out into the canopy.

By definition, any time there is more than one entity in the Family Tree either connected or unconnected that belongs to a single node so putting a wrong person into any node actually puts that person, usually as a duplicate, into the cloud. It just appears that the person is in a node.

From the perspective of the user, it initially appears that the Family Tree is "their" family. This is especially true if the user's family has not done a lot of family history research. Many of the family lines will simply end with no connection to the forest canopy. All is not well in the forest however. The duplicates in the cloud are often hard to identify or even find. Sometimes the floating pedigrees are extensive and they interfere with the connected pedigrees that form the canopy.

OK, that's enough metaphorical analysis for one post. However, anyone working with the Family Tree has to take into account this cloud of unconnected pedigrees and individuals floating around out there waiting to be either merged as duplicates or attached to their unique node in the forest. Where did the unconnected cloud come from? Here are some of the sources:

  • Multiple submissions of the same person with the same or different detail information
  • The extraction programs that added unconnected people to the cloud
  • Private extraction programs where the users add everyone from a small community because of a lack of sufficient documentation to connect the individuals 
  • People with insufficient information to be found and attached to their node on the Family Tree
  • Some people who are in fact made up and never really existed
There are probably some other even stranger categories also. One ongoing challenge in adding people to the Family Tree is trying to determine if they are already out there in the cloud. We call this finding duplicates. I have found that as I add more information to the people in my part of the Family Tree, I find more duplicates. However, the supply of duplicates is not infinite and eventually, the number found either slows down or stops until a user, unaware of the person in the canopy already, creates another duplicate. 

From the perspective of someone living who comes into the Family Tree forest, it appears that there are an overwhelming number of connections. But as you work in the forest, you begin to see that many branches and nodes are empty and waiting for discovery or attachment. For all its vast number of nodes and branches the Family Tree is still alive and growing. There are still uncountable numbers of possible people who can be incorporated but have yet to be discovered through research. 

But what about the unconnected cloud. Right now, we have only the search for duplicates that gives us any idea of the number of people in the cloud and the complexity of their relationships to the existing forest canopy. A program may exist already that analyzes the Family Tree and reports on the number of unconnected individuals and pedigrees but such information has not been shared with the common users. But even with an idea of the size of the unconnected cloud, the issue of connecting all those people may be unresolvable. In some cases, as I mentioned, when individuals are added because of insufficient information on their attachment to the Family Tree, there may not be a resolution absent a dramatic increase in the available source documents. But for those members of the cloud who were created by extraction programs, diligent searching for duplicates will reveal many of their connections. 

I personally think the cloud is growing just about as rapidly as the trees. As the forest and the canopy get their nodes identified, there are always an exponentially larger number of nodes available. This is a project that has just barely begun. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Mystery of "?" on the FamilySearch Family Tree

Note: This is one post where you must read all the comments. They don't completely solve the problem but they do offer a resolution. 

On my startup page for the Family Tree, I got a notification with a link to the following entry:

Here is a copy of the notification:

Hmm. Apparently, someone could not find the wife of one of the people in the Family Tree and decided to put a question mark in as the name. Extraneous markings such as this, probably included to act as a reminder to the researcher, are a somewhat constant background to my work with the Family Tree. The recommended tasks for the above person are certainly correct; this entry needs some data corrected before it can be submitted for temple work. I would suggest that such notices be very carefully reviewed and researched.

Even more interesting is the following fact.

One of the ordinances was completed for Mrs. ? Jensen in 1960, apparently without even a given name. 

When I click the link to "View My Relationship," I see the following:

This is even more interesting because my Great-grandfather, Marinus Christensen, was the only male child in that particular family. He did not have a brother. "Jens Christensen," the name of Marinus' father, has one of the more common names in Denmark. There are thousands upon thousands of Jens Christensens.

Apparently, someone added a second wife to my Jens Christensen and five extra children. Even more interesting is the source added to Christian Marinus Jensen.

This shows that the birth occurred in Torslev, Dronninglund, Hjorring, Denmark in 1859. This is interesting because the last child listed for this second family was also born in Torslev in 1865 when my ancestor, Jens Christensen died crossing the Plains in 1866. Jens Christensen and his wife and children left Denmark in 1866 and came to America where he and one of his daughters died. We have a somewhat detailed account of their lives in a book written by my Great-grandmother. See
"Tanner 26 & 27: Jens and Karen Johannesen Christensen."
In short, this additional wife and five children are attached to the wrong Jens Christensen. If you examine the added entry, you can see that the marriage date for Jens Christensen to Kristen Marie Thomsen is listed as occurring in 1830 and the first child is listed as being born in 1853, twenty-three years later. The children of the added marriage were supposedly born in Raevholt, Torslev, Hjorring, Denmark. The Jens Christensen who lived in Torslev and was married to Kirsten Marie Thomsen, was a shoemaker and the reference to R√¶vholt, is to a house with that name.

I guess I can be grateful that the Family Tree program alerted me to this extra, wrong family attached to my ancestry, but I did not need to do all the research necessary to detach the family, which will now be done. By the way, I am not going to resolve the issue of the "?" person, since it is not my family line.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Get a Box: A new approach to family history

Back in 2003, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Boyd K. Packer published an article including excerpts from the following book:

Packer, Boyd K. 1980. The Holy Temple. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft.

Quoting from's account of his writing in an article entitled, "Your Family History: Getting Started, " President Packer wrote about the process of beginning your family history. I highly recommend reviewing and internalizing the concepts of this short article. One quote from the article has caught my attention over the years. Here is the quote.
How to Begin 
It is a matter of getting started. You may come to know the principle that Nephi knew when he said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Ne. 4:6). 
If you don’t know where to start, start with yourself. If you don’t know what records to get, and how to get them, start with what you have.
There are two very simple instructions for those who are waiting for a place to begin. Here’s what you might do: 
Get a cardboard box. Any kind of a box will do. Put it someplace where it is in the way, perhaps on the couch or on the counter in the kitchen—anywhere where it cannot go unnoticed. Then, over a period of a few weeks, collect and put into the box every record of your life, such as your birth certificate, your certificate of blessing, your certificate of baptism, your certificate of ordination, and your certificate of graduation. Collect diplomas, all of the photographs, honors, or awards, a diary if you have kept one, everything that you can find pertaining to your life; anything that is written, or registered, or recorded that testifies that you are alive and what you have done.
Back in 1980, when President Packer wrote his book, the idea that we could use something called the Internet and an online program called to gather our family's memories was still way in the future. Today our box is the Family Tree. Now, every time I go to the Brigham Young University Family History Library, I see people using advanced scanning devices to scan their family's history into digital files that can be shared in the Memories section of the Family Tree. We now have a marvelous digital box to store and share all of our precious memories.

But the idea of where to start is just the same as it was when President Packer wrote his book. We need to start with ourselves. As President Packer counseled, we need to start by writing our own stories. As he continued,
Family history work has the power to do something for the dead. It has an equal power to do something to the living. Family history work of Church members has a refining, spiritualizing, tempering influence on those who are engaged in it. They understand that they are tying their family together, their living family here with those who have gone before. 
Family history work in one sense would justify itself even if one were not successful in clearing names for temple work. The process of searching, the means of going after those names, would be worth all the effort you could invest. The reason: You cannot find names without knowing that they represent people. You begin to find out things about people. When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names or the number of names going through the temple. Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers—we seek to find them and to know them and to serve them. 
In doing so we store up treasures in heaven.
Technology has now advanced to the point where you and your family can, through your combined efforts, share all of your work and thereby avoid duplication of effort. We now have our box and it is sitting there on each of our computers and other devices, waiting for us to fill it with our memories and our research into our ancestral families. We need to recognize that as much as things seem to change, they really do not change at all. We are still working towards the same goals of our personal salvation and the salvation of our kindred dead as we were back in 1980 and before. But now we can do the work with the assistance of wonderful digital tools.

Even though our tools have changed, I hope that you can see that the work itself has not changed. It is still work and it still requires a substantial effort, but it is certainly worth all the time and effort we can muster. Let's start with our new, sparkling digital box, the Family Tree, and begin our learning process about our families.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Where do your FamilySearch Family Tree lines actually end?

Some users of the Family Tree find themselves with extensive pedigrees. Most of those with such pedigrees are already aware that their relatives and ancestors submitted ancestral information to the predecessors of FamilySearch, including the Genealogical Society of Utah and other organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Family Tree is a compilation of essentially all those submissions so extensive pedigrees, in many cases, can be expected, even if the member-user is totally unaware of the prior involvement of his or her family in submitting names.

Some new users of the Family Tree, even those who are not members of the Church and have no knowledge of any previous submissions to the Family Tree, are surprised to see the amount of information that has been compiled. In many cases, the amount of information, i.e. the number of names in the virtual pedigree, is overwhelming and gives the impression that "all the work is done." This impression is more pronounced among members who are aware of relatives who spent a considerable time doing their "genealogy." Some of us can also remember seeing relatives with huge piles of family group records in large binders collectively referred to as Books of Remembrance. Incidentally, I was recently at the Brigham Young University Family History Library and one of the patrons was there with a large suitcase completely filled with those binders. I would estimate that there were more than ten thousand pages of family group sheets. The patron was in the process of scanning the entire stack. So a lot of that paper genealogy is still floating around.

I frequently write about the confused records and duplications that have resulted from the combining of so many years of genealogical submissions. But there is a simple question that every user of the program needs to ask as they approach these extensive pedigrees: where does it all end? I mean when do each of the myriad family lines end from a practical standpoint? Are we to believe that some of our family lines actually and correctly extend "back to Adam?" In fact, I often encounter users of the Family Tree who firmly believe that everything they see is correct because it came from the Church and "they" have obviously checked it all before "they" put it online. This impression, by the way, is constantly reinforced by references being made to using the Family Tree to find your ancestors who need temple ordinances. An illustration of this reinforcement is a recent FamilySearch Blog entitled, "Using FamilySearch's Green Temple Icons to Focus Your Search for Temple Names." The premise of this post is that you can randomly "choose an ancestor born in the early to mid 1800s" and use that ancestor to find ordinance opportunities. The danger of this approach is simple: how do you know you are related to the person selected unless you make the unsupported conclusion that each of the ancestral links between you and that person in the Family Tree are all correctly identified?

In my case, the suggestion that I can find an ancestor born in the mid to early 1800s assumes that I had any such ancestors who were not already members of the Church. In fact, in my case, all of my ancestors who were born in that time period joined the Church. The first ancestor who was not a member was born in 1815.

Unfortunately the blog post avoids this issue entirely and simply reinforces the attitude that everything in the Family Tree is correct and reliable. I guess we really need to ask ourselves collectively, do we really care if what we are trying to accomplish with the Family Tree involves any degree of accuracy and consistency? Does it matter that every single ancestral line for every single user comes to a point where the information is no longer verifiably accurate? Sooner or later, every line ends. Period. The tragedy of this situation is not that the lines end, but that there are more names in the Family Tree after the line has in fact ended.

Of course, confronting the reality of the Family Tree's accuracy is very disturbing to a "new user" who might be frightened off from working on family history if we let them know the problems they face. Superficially, it seems more "productive" to ignore the real issues and let people have a "good experience" in finding names to take to the temples and let them find out later, if ever, that they were not really related to any of those people.

There is even a more serious question. Why should someone, like me for instance, spend my time helping people research their families, if all we need to do is add unrelated names to the Family Tree? Why do research at all if all it takes to advance the work is to mine the names already in the Family Tree?

I do not need to use a hypothetical situation to illustrate this problem. I can choose any one of my existing family lines as shown in the Family Tree and rather easily and quickly find the point at which the next generation relationship is either missing or unverified and probably wrongly attached. If the lines have been properly supported by reasonably accurate research, they will end with a blank for the next unresolved generation. But, because of the eclectic nature of the Family Tree, there are lines the continue without any sources or even logic and you can only rely on the information if you take the attitude that the entries, despite any support, are correct.

Am I being negative because I don't believe that the these additional unsupported names are unreliable? Perhaps. Actually, I use what is already in the Family Tree as a basis for specific research to extend the family lines, but often as not, I find the information incomplete, inaccurate and I am then required to change the entries to conform to the records and other sources that I find. This happened recently when we discovered that one of our relatively closely related, direct line ancestors had been misidentified for years. The mistake is on literally thousands of family group records floating around in our family. In this case, the line ended with this ancestor, but it could have just as easily been extended using the wrong person as the basis for research.

It only takes me a few seconds of clicking on the Family Tree to find an example. As shown in the Family Tree, one of my direct line relatives is Sarah Sanderson, b. 10 June 1774 in "South Carolina, United States" (ignoring the problem of the date and the conclusion about the United States) all of her siblings and her supposed parents were born in Vermont. She was supposed to have married her husband, my 2nd Great-grandfather in Carlisle, Nicholas, Kentucky on 10 June 1794. She supposedly died in 1838 in Greensburg, Decatur, Indiana. First of all, Carlisle County, Kentucky was established in 1799, five years after the supposed marriage date and the town of Carlisle was not founded until 1816. See Wikipedia: Carlisle, Kentucky. Am I supposed to ignore this history and assume these entries are correct? Apparently so.

You may ask, why haven't I made the changes? This line happens to be a "legacy" line and we (my immediate family) are working our way back through the generations and have been stopped before we even get to this generation. When we decide what to do with the more recent generations, it is likely that much of what is now in the Family Tree will change or simply disappear. We have this problem on every single line.

Can we continue to ignore this problem with impunity? Am I really out of a job?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Map your ancestors with KinMapper

The App Gallery currently has 123 interesting and useful apps (programs etc.) that are associated with family history. If you haven't taken the time to explore the apps listed, when you do, you may be surprised at the variety. Many of the programs, such as this one,, are easy to understand utility programs that add a specific feature to the Family Tree.

To use the program, all you have to do is open it, sign in to with your login and password and watch the program map your first eight generations on the world map. You can click on any one of the dots and see the details of the events in your ancestors' lives. Here is an example.

I have to admit that my ancestors in the first eight generations did not come from many locations. My European view is even more restricted.

It would probably be interesting to map what is in the Family Tree and then compare what is shown with a DNA test to see if they agree.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Huge French Website Geneanet now a FamilySearch Partner

The huge French website,, has now been added as a free, partner website with for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a screenshot of their Collections page. For those who take advantage of this extensive database, there is the usual option of adding in a family tree.

Quoting from the FamilySearch announcement about the new partnership,
FamilySearch Partners recently partnered with Geneanet to provide free access to the Geneanet services for family history center users and for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Free access includes a premium account consisting of family trees and many record databases containing over 3 billion individuals. No log in is required in family history centers, and the site is accessed through the family history center portal. For personal access, Church members can go to FamilySearch Partner Access to set up a free account. An email invitation will also come to Church members in the coming weeks. 
Geneanet is a French website and has tremendous value to those with French ancestry. If you have early French ancestors or French ancestors who immigrated to other countries, you may find numerous family trees showing generations of cousins who may be new to you. However, don’t overlook Geneanet’s value for European records and worldwide family trees. The Geneanet record databases often reach far beyond France into other European countries. Recently, two FamilySearch employees were happily surprised to find new information for ancestors in Finland and Holland using these databases. These users are convinced of Geneanet’s value to them as they build their family tree. Most records and all family trees are included with the premium account. Be aware that some records and books shared on Geneanet require payment to the library or society who submitted the records. 
Some of the features of Geneanet include the following:
  • Geneanet members share more than 400 million individuals in their online family trees. As a member, you can build your own family tree, contact other members, and find and share ancestors. You can also build a family tree on Geneanet using a GEDCOM file. You can learn more here.
  • Geneanet members have access to hundreds of thousands of free digitized archival records and hundreds of mostly free digitized registers.
  • Many Geneanet members share their indexes for free. Some genealogy society indexes are available with paying access.
  • Geneanet members have access to hundreds of thousands of digitized books (some require paying access), postcards and family pictures, a wiki, a blog, and a genealogy community.
  • Geneanet is available in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Impressions of an Indexing Activity with Boy Scouts

A short while ago, I had the opportunity to conduct a FamilySearch Indexing activity with a Boy Scout Troop in our neighborhood. The boys were between the ages of 12 and 14. The boys all came prepared to learn the basics of Indexing. They each had brought a computer or a tablet to work on and had them all set up in a line in the classroom where they held their meetings.

The idea was that the Scouts could do some Indexing for service hours needed for advancements.

I started with a short video from the Indexing website and some addition instructions. They all logged in to and worked successfully through the test drive. The next step was to get started. Of course, the first step is to download the program to your computer. Hmm. The boys with the tablets were out of luck. The Indexing program would not install on their iPads or Android devices. The next group with problems were those working on MacBooks. The program refused to install and kept getting a Java error. Even when the boys could get to the point of downloading the program, we had to have their parents' passwords, to install the programs. In one or two cases the Scouts could not sign into the computers to allow the download in the first place. Then the Java error started showing up on the PCs. Out of about fifteen Scouts, only two managed to get the program downloaded and operational.

Unfortunately, with that many boys, we did not have time for me to work with each one individually. The two boys who did manage to get into the program were making progress and quickly understood what they were trying to do.

For the past few years, I have been hearing about Beta tests of the Indexing program which would move the program entirely to the web. In this case, that would have solved almost all the problems, especially for those using iPads or Android tablets. I could easily help supplement the number of people doing indexing if the program were web-based. In fact, I could probably find some time to index records, if I could do the work on one of my mobile devices.

Granted, some of the connection and password problems could have been resolved if I had had more time and the opportunity to work with the boys individually to resolve the problems. If you are planning on conducting such an activity, I suggest further preparation to make sure each of the boys has the program available on their device before starting the class.

I think that is enough to say on the subject.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Comments on FamilySearch: Past, Present and Future

A recent FamilySearch blog post entitled, "FamilySearch: Past, Present and Future," reported on a presentation done by Brian Edwards of FamilySearch at the Brigham Young University (BYU) Family History and Genealogy Conference on July 26-29, 2016. Most of the post centered on the "personalized homepage" that appeared some time ago as an option to users of the website. Here is an example from my own page:

This custom-generated homepage focuses on research hint opportunities, educational and inspirational ideas and recently added content. The post also mentions recent updates to the FamilySearch apps for iOS and Android products.

The post goes on to mention Family Discovery Centers. Here is a quote from the post.
The Family Discovery Center located in the Joseph Smith Building on Temple Square has been so popular that it is expanding to other venues—the bottom floor of the Family History Library is being remodeled to create a similar center to provide engaging and interactive experiences to youth and those who are dabbling in, interested in, or slightly curious about their family tree, time periods of their ancestors. People can also learn about new opportunities to contribute to family history work. Smaller discovery units will be placed in various family history centers around the world, and a mobile version is being packaged to take to stake centers for activities.
There has been some discussion recently about the future of the existing Family History Centers. It is interesting to learn that the Family Discovery Center concept is being expanded not only into existing Family History Centers, but also in a "mobile" version that could be used at Stake Family Discovery Days and other conferences and activities. My question is whether or not activity at the existing Family Discovery Centers has been connected to an increase in family history activity overall or even to increased activity at the Family History Center locations where they are now being used? Just a question from the perspective of having recent conversations about the difficulties faced by the existing Family History Centers.

The last part of the post is directed at "Future FamilySearch Innovations." Here are the upcoming innovations with my comments.

FamilySearch is working on a more user-friendly portal to provide step-by-step instructions to assist researchers in finding names for temple ordinances and extending their family trees.

In light of the interest in The Family History Guide and its success in helping people get started and continuing in family history, I would suppose that the need for this type of instruction would become even more apparent. Presently, the website does not provide this kind of entry level assistance in any meaningful way and any improvement in helping people start to do research rather than simply harvest available opportunities would be greatly appreciated.

Tree Buds is a new feature that will reveal problems in Family Trees so families can sort through and help correct data.

This is another area where existing apps such as are so useful and needed. Perhaps rather than develop new features for the Family Tree by copying existing apps and programs, FamilySearch could help the developers of these third party programs to become more available and used by the Family Tree users. 

The FamilySearch website in enhancing the fan chart feature by creating color-coded fan charts by date of birth and place of birth as a guide for users’ research. It will be similar to the Grandma’s Pie app created by BYU Students.

Here the intent to incorporate an existing app is stated. If the app is free and available online like Grandma's Pie, why add those features to the Family Tree. Doesn't this act as a disincentive to the developers of these programs?

The Hints feature on the Family Tree app is becoming more and more precise. Currently, the app is at about 98 percent accuracy according to Edwards. However, the accuracy depends on location, so always check the data before accepting the hints. For example, because of the Scandinavian patronymic naming system, Scandinavian hints are less often correct. International search and hint improvements are underway. Currently, because so much of the information in FamilySearch is for North America and England, most of the hints are for those places.

This statement confirms my own observations of the value of the Record Hints feature which, by the way, I find extremely valuable. This is not a feature available from a third-party app, however, there are several apps and programs that incorporate these hints in innovative ways. I think the concept is a good idea but I also think that FamilySearch needs to be more aware of the damage they might do by undermining a third-party program. 

FamilySearch is also developing methods for attaching unindexed images to the Family Tree app.

This feature is already present and I have written about it previously.

They are also working on more efficient ways for multiple people to work on the same line of ancestors so people can more easily collaborate. “New ways are coming for people to form communities for sharing and collaboration—bit by bit and piece by piece,” Edwards said.

I would very much welcome any innovations that improved our ability to collaborate. This is a really good objective. 

More efficient search methods are also being developed for searches all across the FamilySearch website. Badges at the top of the person pages already show links of the person to sites as the Mormon Pioneer Overland Trail, Mormon Battalion, Pearl Harbor, etc.

Any improvement in the search capabilities of the program would be also appreciated. This is probably the biggest challenge mentioned.

What is Religious Freedom in the United States? Part One: The Origins

On September 6, 1620, a small ship named the Mayflower left England with 102 passengers in addition to the ship's crew. Here is page one of a copy of the original, handwritten passenger list from the manuscript of Governor William Bradford written up around 1651.
One of my own ancestors, Richard Warren, appears on this page. The Mayflower passengers are usually jointly referred to as "Pilgrims" regardless of their original purpose for coming to America. See the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. Despite common tradition, not all of the passengers were religiously motivated, only 37 of the passengers were members of the separatist Leiden congregation. The other passengers were recruited by Thomas Weston of the London Merchant Adventurers who funded the Pilgrims voyage. Many of the other passengers were servants of either the Leiden Congregation or the London Merchant Adventurers. My ancestor, Richard Warren was one of the London Merchant Adventurers and another of my ancestors, Francis Cooke, was a member of the Leiden Congregation. Some of the crewmen of the ship decided to remain in America. The most prominent of these is John Alden.  See Wikipedia: List of Mayflower passengers.

Some of the original Mayflower passengers died at sea, others died during the first winter in America. About half of the passengers died in the first winter. The identity of those who survived to have descendants is extensively documented down five generations in a series of books published by General Society of Mayflower Descendants (The Mayflower Society). Forty-five of the original Mayflower passengers, in addition to those who died at sea, died and were buried on Cole's Hill.

The Leiden Congregation, also called the Scrooby Congregation. Quoting from the Wikipedia article on the Scrooby Congregation,
The Scrooby Congregation were English Protestant separatists who lived near Scrooby, on the outskirts of Bawtry, a small market town at the border of South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. In 1607/8 the Congregation emigrated to Netherlands in search of the freedom to worship as they chose. They founded the "English separatist church at Leiden", one of several English separatist groups in the Netherlands at the time.
For a detailed history of the Pilgrims see:

Dexter, Henry Martyn, and Morton Dexter. The England and Holland of the Pilgrims. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1905.

One of the basic books about the influence of the Pilgrims on American society is the following:

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Before the Mayflower passengers landed, they determined to resolve any potential conflicts that might arise as a result of the very different motivations of those on the voyage. The results of their discussions was the signing of a document known as the Mayflower Compact. Interestingly, the original copy of the Mayflower Compact has been lost. The earliest recorded copy of the document was published in 1622 in a pamphlet entitled, Mourt's' Relation. The identities of the original signers was was not noted until the printing of Nathaniel Morton's New-England Memoriall in 1669. 

Morton, Nathaniel. New-Englands memoriall. Boston: Usher, 1669.

Here is the text of the Mayflower Compact as reported.
In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.
This document is generally acknowledged as the foundation of self-government in what is now the United States of America. These English settlers had inherited the concept of the "Rule of Law" originating in the Magna Carta signed in 1215 but as the population of the the American colonies increased, extended that concept in America to include representative government.

It is extremely difficult to find objective and balanced accounts of the early history of the English colonies in America. Most of the websites and books on the subject of the origins of religious freedom are clearly biased by current political views on the subject. What is even more difficult is to elicit some sort of consensus on the subject of religious freedom. Clearly, the early English Pilgrims were concerned about their ability to worship as the deemed proper. They were separatists or non-conformists and as such had suffered intense religious persecution in England. However, religious freedom as we might define it today, was not the objective of these early settlers.

The earliest concepts of "religious freedom" were developed by Roger Williams, who ultimately founded a settlement in Rhode Island that accepted settlers of all religious persuasions, including my own remote Tanner ancestor, William Tanner.

To be continued.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Religious Freedom and Genealogy

As a former trial attorney with a background in U.S. Constitutional law and as a genealogist with ancestors who suffered mob violence, incarceration and persecution for their religious beliefs, I am intensely interested in the topic of religious freedom. Very recently, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke on September 13, 2016, in part, about religious freedom at a devotional held in Marriott Center of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Shortly before that between September 10th through the 14th, 2016, another leader of the Church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke twice at a conference sponsored by the Amar Foundation at Windsor Castle, outside of London, England on similar subjects. These are only two examples of the Church leaders' interest in this vital topic.

In addition, the Church has established a Religious Freedom website., to promote religious freedom. On that website is the following statements.
  • Become informed about the basics of religious freedom and understand your rights. Study the materials on this site and stay aware of what’s happening in the news regarding religious freedom. You can follow this Facebook page to stay more up-to-date.
  • Live and respectfully share your beliefs. Have meaningful, kind conversations with those of differing beliefs. Focus on seeking to understand one another’s perspective and finding common ground that unites you. While such discussions might create some tension, which occurs naturally in any democracy, if you proceed with faith and compassion rather than fear you’ll often discover fair compromises that result in a stronger society. 
Some of the major motivations for my own overwhelming interest in family history are the doctrine of the Church and my personal beliefs as they pertain to those doctrines. Because of my beliefs, religious freedom and genealogy are inseparably involved. As the recent addresses given by Elder Oaks and Elder Holland point out, it is time to become more than passive in my support of religious freedom.

This blog is entitled, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad..." The reason for such a general title is to provide a certain latitude in the subjects I intend to address. Because I see such a close relationship between my beliefs that form the foundation of my interest in genealogy and the additional subject of religious freedom, in the future, I choose to address some topics that bear on both subjects and where appropriate, where they overlap and relate.

As I pointed out in my opening sentence to this post, my ancestors suffered intense religious persecution for their beliefs. In fact, some of my ancestors were among the earliest European settlers in America. Three of my direct-line ancestors were passengers on the Mayflower when it arrived in 1620. Subsequently, many more of my ancestors left England and other countries as a result of seeking religious freedom.

Initially, I plan on writing about the legal aspects of religious freedom in the United States. Over time, I may also write about religious freedom in other countries.

As I usually say, stay tuned.

Missing Ordinances in the FamilySearch Family Tree?

Unintentional duplication of temple ordinances has been a concern since the 1800s. This entire issue is discussed in detail in the following book:

Allen, James B, Jessie L Embry, and Kahlile B Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995.

The issue is still currently under discussion. From time to time in the Family Tree, ordinances appear to be missing when the users are aware that the ordinances were performed, sometimes by the users themselves. Part of the explanation for these omissions is contained in a Help Center article entitled, "Ordinances are missing in Family Tree (Not displaying) Member Issues Addressed." In some cases, those not registered with an LDS account may not be able to see this or some of the other articles in the Help Center that pertain specifically to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Temples.

The article linked above contains specific, detailed instructions concerning missing ordinance data. From the article cited, it is apparent that the Church is concerned that any issues such as missing ordinance information be resolved and the article provides very detailed information about the procedures for correcting any omissions.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Don't People Do Their Family History?

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have several social, practical and theological reasons for being involved in family history or "doing their genealogy." However, despite tremendous technological advances supporting active family history participants and a constant stream of admonitions about the importance of family history, the vast majority of the members are still not persuaded to get involved. In addition, there is a small, but significant number who actively oppose efforts to advance genealogical programs in the wards and stakes or become personally involved. Why does this apathy or even antipathy exist?

One simplified explanation for the lack of interest classifies members in three categories: those who say they don't have enough time, those who are just not interested and those who believe that "my genealogy has been all done." All three of these are not really reasons, they are excuses. I would turn the question around and ask, what motivates some people get involved in genealogical research about their families?

Back in 1995 President Howard W. Hunter wrote an Ensign article for February entitled "A Temple-Motivated People."
Surely we on this side of the veil have a great work to do. For in light of all the above-noted facts about temple ordinances, we can see that the building of temples has deep significance for ourselves and mankind, and our responsibilities become clear. We must accomplish the priesthood temple ordinance work necessary for our own exaltation; then we must do the necessary work for those who did not have the opportunity to accept the gospel in life. Doing work for others is accomplished in two steps: first, by family history research to ascertain our progenitors; and second, by performing the temple ordinances to give them the same opportunities afforded to the living. 
Yet there are many members of the Church who have only limited access to the temples. They do the best they can. They pursue family history research and have the temple ordinance work done by others. Conversely, there are some members who engage in temple work but fail to do family history research on their own family lines. Although they perform a divine service in assisting others, they lose a blessing by not seeking their own kindred dead as divinely directed by latter-day prophets.
President Hunter went on to explain the need to obtain both halves of the blessings of temple work.
I recall an experience of a few years ago that is analogous to this condition. At the close of a fast and testimony meeting, the bishop remarked, “We have had a spiritual experience today listening to the testimonies borne by each other. This is because we have come fasting according to the law of the Lord. But let us never forget that the law consists of two parts: that we fast by abstaining from food and drink and that we contribute what we have thereby saved to the bishop’s storehouse for the benefit of those who are less fortunate.” Then he added: “I hope no one of us will leave today with only half a blessing.” 
I have learned that those who engage in family history research and then perform the temple ordinance work for those whose names they have found will know the additional joy of receiving both halves of the blessing.
From a practical standpoint, we have many Church "programs." Active members of the Church are involved in all sorts of activities and responsibilities. In many cases, family history is seen as "just another church program and one that is not my responsibility right now."

This unity of temple and family history work has been repeated more recently by Elder Richard G. Scott who spoke about "The Joy of Redeeming the Dead" in General Conference in October, 2012.
Through further revelation to Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, there has come an understanding of and the provision for temple work and the family history effort that supports it. Every prophet since Joseph Smith has emphasized the imperative need to provide all ordinances for ourselves and our deceased ancestors. 
Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts. They are connected together like the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Some members may not be able to do both works because of health or distances to temples.
From these and many other teachings, we learn that temple and family history are one work and the motivation for doing both comes from the influence of the Spirit. We should prayerfully consider these words and ask for guidance in including family history research as part of our lives. As President Henry B. Eyring pointed out in an Ensign article in April of 2005 entitled, "Hearts Bound Together,"
Your opportunities and the obligations they create are remarkable in the whole history of the world. There are more temples across the earth than there have ever been. More people in all the world have felt the Spirit of Elijah move them to record the identities and facts of their ancestors’ lives. There are more resources to search out your ancestors than there have ever been in the history of the world. The Lord has poured out knowledge about how to make that information available worldwide through technology that a few years ago would have seemed a miracle. 
With those opportunities there comes greater obligation to keep our trust with the Lord. Where much is given, much is required. After you find the first few generations, the road will become more difficult. The price will become greater. As you go back in time, the records become less complete. As others of your family search out ancestors, you will discover that the ancestor you find has already been offered the full blessings of the temple. Then you will have a difficult and important choice to make. You will be tempted to stop and leave the hard work of finding to others who are more expert or to another time in your life. But you will also feel a tug on your heart to go on in the work, hard as it will be. 
As you decide, remember that the names which will be so difficult to find are of real people to whom you owe your existence in this world and whom you will meet again in the spirit world. When you were baptized, your ancestors looked down on you with hope. Perhaps after centuries, they rejoiced to see one of their descendants make a covenant to find them and to offer them freedom. In your reunion, you will see in their eyes either gratitude or terrible disappointment. Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor on to find them.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sources can now be added from MyHeritage directly to the FamilySearch Family Tree announced that sources for individuals in the Family Tree can now be added directly from family trees. The announcement contained the following explanation,
FamilySearch is all about helping people discover meaningful ancestral connections. For this reason, we have relationships with programs like MyHeritage, Ancestry, and FindMyPast, to provide exciting discovery experiences. Each program offers a massive resource of records, and these partnerships provide a special opportunity to collect sources from many different places and store them to your ancestors’ profile pages in FamilySearch. 
Taking records from other programs requires some extra effort when toggling between websites in order to copy and paste multiple fields into FamilySearch—until now! MyHeritage now features a simple link at the bottom of their website’s page that offers to “Attach Source to FamilySearch.” That’s it! With one click, you’ve stored a new source to an ancestor in FamilySearch!
Moving sources from one online family tree program to another can only be easily accomplished by the development of these kinds of links. Information I received subsequent to the announcement indicates that any register user of both programs can move sources from their family tree to the Family Tree. Presently, this is unidirectional that is from to the Family Tree.  Of course, this feature will only work for those who have their family information in the Family Tree program.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

And If We Die... Death and the FamilySearch Family Tree

The most common shorthand way of referring to an ancestor or other deceased person is to indicate a birth and death date. For example, this is the death and burial information for Thomas Parkinson (b. 1830, d. 1906). The short citation of his birth and death helps to identify him from any other Thomas Parkinson that happens to be floating around out there in the genealogical community. Obviously, we need a lot more information to adequately document him or any other individual.

One complicating factor of the Family Tree is the existence of a "Private Space." Quoting from the Help Center article, "Understanding Private Spaces:"
  • Each user of Family Tree has a private space. Private spaces help protect privacy and allow users to enter information for living family members. See How Family Tree displays living people (71969) and Visibility of living people on Family Tree (55036).
  • A Family Tree person in a private space will have a yellow banner at the top of the person page, including:
  • Private Person
  • Living and confidential people are managed in a private space. Only you will be able to see and modify this person. However, anyone could potentially see the photos, documents, and stories that are attached to this person.
  • All living people and relationships are stored in a private space.
  • Currently, private spaces cannot be shared.
  • Each owner of a living record for a person can modify information independently from others.
  • Deceased persons should each be represented only one time in Family Tree and have a common ID except for confidential records.
  • A living person can be represented in multiple private spaces as a different Family Tree person, and each instance has a different ID.
These general rules are further modified by some specific provisions for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These specific provisions can be read in the same article linked above, "Understanding Private Spaces."

Essentially, any information added to a living person is contained and only visible in a Private Space of the person entering that information. Living people in the Family Tree included in your own Private Space are duplicates with their own ID number. Members of a living person's family may create one or more copies of that living person, none of which are visible to any of the others. So if I enter a living relative, say my parents or grandparents into my portion of the Family Tree, I am the only person who can see those duplicate entries, assuming the living people are members of the Church and already have their own information in the Family Tree.

What happens to all those duplicate copies of living individuals when that person dies? That is the real issue with the Family Tree and dead people. As the users enter death dates for those previously living duplicate people, the duplicates then become visible. In addition, through the Ward Clerks in the church, the death may also be recorded in the official Church records and another duplicate, the official Church Membership duplicate of the person is created. The users, i.e. relatives, of the newly deceased person now need to merge these extra duplicates.

This process is outlined in more detail in another Help Center article entitled, "Membership record of a deceased individual has missing or incorrect information" and other linked articles.

We have had to work through this process recently and know that it is difficult for members to understand. If you are confronted with this situation, please take the time to study and read these and the the other linked articles on this subject.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

LDS Users Attach Sources Directly from MyHeritage to the FamilySearch Family Tree

In an announcement made September 14, 2016, Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are registered on with an LDS account, can now attached sources directly from to the Family Tree. What is not clear from the announcement I received is whether or not this ability is limited to those with and LDS account in one or both programs.

Here is what the announcement had to say:
FamilySearch is all about helping people discover meaningful ancestral connections. For this reason, we have relationships with programs like MyHeritage, Ancestry, and FindMyPast, to provide exciting discovery experiences. Each program offers a massive resource of records, and these partnerships provide a special opportunity to collect sources from many different places and store them to your ancestors’ profile pages in FamilySearch. 
Taking records from other programs requires some extra effort when toggling between websites in order to copy and paste multiple fields into FamilySearch—until now! MyHeritage now features a simple link at the bottom of their website’s page that offers to “Attach Source to FamilySearch.” That’s it! With one click, you’ve stored a new source to an ancestor in FamilySearch!
I hope FamilySearch is prepared for the avalanche of records I can now add directly from that are not in FamilySearch or the other programs.

Using YouTube Videos For Family History

Of course, I am presently very much involved in videos. I will be doing seven webinars during the month of September, all of which will ultimately be uploaded to the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel. The BYU Family History Library presently has 176 videos, but we have been uploading an average of almost one new video a day and so this number will change daily. Of course the BYU Family History Library is not the only genealogically related channel on Here is a list of some of more popular channels.

and many, many more. 

Interestingly, is blocked in the WiFi access available is chapels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints even though there are a huge number of church videos also on the website.

Here are a few of the videos uploaded recently by the BYU Family History Library.

State-land States vs Public Land States for Genealogists - James Tanner

Searching Beyond Google with Search Engines and Portals - James Tanner

When Your Family History is "All Done" - Temple Work Through Desendancy Research - Kathryn Grant

African American Research by Rayanne Melick

Please remember to subscribe to the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel by clicking on the "Subscribe" link on the Channel page.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Do You Really Want to Take a Family Name to the Temple? Here's How - Part Two

At the end of the first part of this post, I asked the following questions:
But there is a more important question. So you found a green temple icon, how do you know you are related to the person with the icon? Is all the information and connections between you as an individual and that person correct? Does it matter if you aren't related?
Let me start with a quote from the article entitled, "Individuals for whom I can request temple ordinances."
A letter from the First Presidency dated February 29, 2012, states "Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors. Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter." If you want to perform temple work for a friend or other person to whom you are not related, please contact FamilySearch by phone, chat, or email. You can also click the link for more information: What Ordinances Should I Not Perform? Can I do temple work for a friend?

You are responsible to submit names of the individuals below:
  1. Immediate family members
  2. Direct-line ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on) and their families).
You can also submit the names of the individuals below:
  1. Biological, adoptive, and foster family lines connected to your family.
  2. Collateral family lines (uncles, aunts, cousins, and their families).
  3. Descendants of your ancestors.
  4. Your own descendants 
  5. Possible ancestors, meaning individuals who have a probable family relationship that cannot be verified because the records are inadequate, such as those who have the same last name and resided in the same area as your known ancestors.
It would be fair to say that we are not encouraged to do temple work for someone to whom we are not related as set forth above. I would think then that we have a responsibility to at least verify that the people we do work for are related or covered by the instructions.

As you click back in your portion of the Family Tree, you need to examine each individual in the line to see if there is a valid connection. The way to determine these relationships is provided by the Family Tree in the form of Record Hints, adding new records by doing research and by verifying existing records by adding sources to records.

To accomplish this has millions upon millions of records. In addition the program provides a number of instructive icons that advise users of the status of the records. Here is a screenshot of the types of icons used to mark the records.

What I have found is that by adding the Record Hints and following up on the Research Suggestions and working through the Data Problems, I can find more people to legitimately add to the Family Tree with a high degree of confidence that I am related to those people. Here is an example of entry that would indicate that going any further back in time on this line would be inadvisable.

In this case, the first red warning icon indicates the following:

By looking at the birth dates, you can see that the father, Jacob Morgan was only 11 years old. But even if the red icons do not appear, before assuming that some one is related to you, you need to look carefully at the entries and see if the information in the entries is substantiated in some way with sources and that the source actually support the conclusions summarized in the entries.

The Family Tree contains unsubstantiated entries submitted for over 100 years. Unfortunately, we cannot assume that the entries are all correct. By working with members of my family, we have been able to do research, in some cases supplied by the Research Hints and add many dozens of new family members to the Family Tree. By carefully documenting the existing entries in the Family Tree we are reasonably sure that the newly added entries are people to whom we are related.

Here is the first part of the post.