Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Finding Your Mayflower Ancestors and Mayflower 2020
I recently wrote about the completion of the Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700 to 1880 that is on the website. However, the main connection to the database is on the commemorative portion of the website commemorating 400 years of Mayflower history. Here is the direct link.

If you go to the New England Historic Genealogical Society website, you will find a prominent link to the Mayflower database.

So, how do you find out if you have ancestors who were Mayflower passengers? The real answer is by doing exactly what genealogists have been doing for quite some time: you do the research necessary to connect to one of the descendants of the original passengers. The advantage of having the database online is that once you get back into the mid-1800s with your research, you could check the database to see if any of your ancestors show up as descendants. If they do, then you could apply for membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, commonly called the Mayflower Society.

If one of your relatives has already become a member of the Mayflower Society, you may be able to find a more recent connection and speed up the process of applying for membership. An explanation of the process is found on the Society's website on a page entitled, "Join GSMD." There are annual fees for membership in both the New England Historic Genealogical Society and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

Because of my own New England ancestors and other ancestors such as Mormon Pioneers, I am aware of several lineage societies I could join. Specifically, I have at least three documented original Mayflower passengers. My Fourth Great-Grandmother, Thankful Tefft, is already a documented descendant.

The significance of the database to me personally is that it provides documentation for probably thousands of people in my ancestral family. Now that it is searchable, assuming I pay the subscription price to NEGHS, I can search for specific ancestors and save a huge amount of time documenting known lines. I will likely find that I am also related to additional Mayflower passengers.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Whats Wrong with these Dates?

These dates come directly out of the Northiam Parish Register and they are correct. So how is that possible? If you are a very experienced genealogist with a lot of time doing English research, you may know the answer immediately. But if not, you may have to spend some time doing some historical research before you can resolve what seems to be conflicting dates.

The answer turns out to be both simple and complicated. Before 1752 in England and most of its colonies, the New Year was on March 25th. Here is the explanation from The Connecticut State Library, Colonial Records and Topics article, "The 1752 Calendar Change."
In accordance with a 1750 act of Parliament, England and its colonies changed calendars in 1752. By that time, the discrepancy between a solar year and the Julian Calendar had grown by an additional day, so that the calendar used in England and its colonies was 11 days out-of-sync with the Gregorian Calendar in use in most other parts of Europe.

England's calendar change included three major components. The Julian Calendar was replaced by the Gregorian Calendar, changing the formula for calculating leap years. The beginning of the legal new year was moved from March 25 to January 1. Finally, 11 days were dropped from the month of September 1752.
Learning about the calendar changes will help explain many other seemingly difficult dating issues. 

Mayflower Families Descendants to the Fifth Generation is now Complete

Quoting from the AmericanAncestors DataBase News from the New England Historic Genealogical Society post dated May14, 2018 and entitled, "Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700 -1880 is now complete:"
We are extremely happy to announce that we have added our final volume to the Mayflower genealogies, and this database is now complete! This project started over a year ago, and our volunteers have invested over six thousand hours of work to scan and index this invaluable information. 
Overall the Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants database contains 31 volumes, 10,155 pages, and over 575,000 searchable names. The word cloud image presented above, shows the 100 most common surnames found in the database. 
Today’s addition, part three of Henry Samson volume 20, is the final part the searchable database of authenticated Mayflower Pilgrim genealogies, Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880. This addition adds 726 pages, over 16,000 records and over 50,000 searchable names related to the descendants of Henry Samson. This database index includes birth, baptism, marriage, death, and deed records, and where available, the names of parents and spouses.
Estimates of the number of people around the world who are descendants of the original, verified, Mayflower passengers who arrived in America in 1620 run into the tens of millions. For many years, I have been using the "Silver Books," which are the basis for this project, to help with my own research into my New England Ancestors, including at least three passengers on the Mayflower who survived. In fact, I may have several more connections.

I first wrote about this database back in 2017. Since then I have written about some of the problems that accompany trying to maintain an entry for a Mayflower Passenger on the Family Tree. See the following" The Saga of Francis Cooke on the FamilySearch Family Tree.

My hope is that this new database will help to disentangle my own New England ancestors. By the way, access to this database and many others on the website requires a paid membership, the "free" membership given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not work.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MyHeritage Presents FootballDNA
8 legendary football (soccer) players reunite on the pitch to discuss national rivalries, reminisce and laugh together — and see their ethnicity breakdowns revealed through the MyHeritage DNA test. Having lived through quite a few World Cup tournaments over the years, I am aware that these players' names will not be familiar to many people in the United States but this is a fabulous promotion for those in the rest of the world. See this video for more of the story. This is one of the best Genealogy/DNA promotions I have yet seen.

8 Football Legends Uncover Their Origins with MyHeritage DNA

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Reclaim the Records frees the NYC marriage license index for 1996-2017

Another big win for genealogists and others needing records from New York. Reclaim the Records has won a lawsuit and now has the NYC marriage license index for 1996-2017, 1.5 million records, free online, searchable and downloadable.

Here is the link to the newly acquired records:
Please take the time to go to the Reclaim the Records' website and see all of the records that have been liberated.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

All Burned Up: Fires and Genealogical Research

Because most of the world's genealogically significant records have been created and stored on paper or a paper-like substitute (parchment etc.) our collective history has always been subject to loss from a variety of natural causes. One of the most common is fire. There have been some notable documentary losses due to fire stretching back almost to prehistoric times. More recently, there have been several large fires that have had an impact on our ability to do genealogical research. I decided to list a few of the more prominent fires. But before I do the list, it is absolutely important to understand that although records are lost in a fire, that does not mean that every record about our ancestors was lost. Loss from fires may make a research objective more difficult but rarely impossible.

Here are a few of the fires.

1. The 1890 U.S. Federal Census

It is commonly repeated that the 1890 U.S. Federal Census was lost in a fire. That is only partially true. The entire story about the loss of the 1890 Census is more complicated. The U.S. National Archives has a three-part series outlining the real story. You can read the series starting with Part One, "The Fate of the 1890 Population Census, Part 1." You will discover that the census was lost through bureaucratic incompetence in addition to some fire damage.

2. The 1973 National Personnel Records Center Fire.

Quoting from the National Archives website article entitled, "The 1973 Fire, National Personnel Records Center,"
On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). The records affected: 
Branch -- Personnel and Period Affected -- Estimated Loss 
Army Personnel discharged November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960 80% 
Air Force Personnel discharged September 25, 1947 to January 1, 1964 (with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.) 75% 
No duplicate copies of these records were ever maintained, nor were microfilm copies produced. Neither were any indexes created prior to the fire. In addition, millions of documents had been lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs before the fire occurred. Therefore, a complete listing of the records that were lost is not available. However, in the years following the fire, the NPRC collected numerous series of records (referred to as Auxiliary Records) that are used to reconstruct basic service information.
The fire was in the St. Louis, Missouri NPRC Military Building.

3. The Chicago Fire of 1871

Claiming that the records were lost in the Chicago Fire is almost a universal genealogical excuse for not doing more research. I have found people using this as an excuse even when they did not know for sure that their ancestors or their ancestors' records were in Chicago in 1871. However, the real loss was catastrophic. Here is one place to start reading about the loss of records; The Losses by the Fire.

4. The Irish Public Records Office Explosion and Fire of 1922

With this fire, it is a good idea to start out with some online research. Here is a good article from the website: "All Irish genealogical records were destroyed in the 1922 fire': Myth or fact?"

Irish research is difficult enough, but the loss of the Public Record Office (PRO) records makes the task even more difficult. Here is a summary of lost records from the above article.
The PRO housed many genealogical treasures including Irish census returns, originals wills dating to the 16th century, and more than 1,000 Church of Ireland parish registers filled with baptism, marriage and burial records.
The suggestions contained in this article apply to all of your research in all parts of the world.

5. Burned Counties Research

Another common excuse for discontinuing genealogical research is the claim that all the records were burned in a courthouse fire. This loss of records is generally referred to as "Burned Counties Research." A good place to start is with the Research Wiki article on Burned Counties. There is a chart showing a partial list of the burned counties and an explanation of the steps needed to overcome some of the loss. There is a more complete explanation about burned counties research in the following book written by Holly T. Hansen, Arlene H. Eakle, Ph.D and me.

Eakle, Arlene H, and James L Tanner. Virginia: Bypassing the Burned Counties Research Guide. Morgan, UT: Family History Expos, 2015.

The book is available on

If you believe that some records have been lost to a courthouse fire, do your research and find out exactly when and what was lost.

6. San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906

I have to admit that I have not had many people claim their records were lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but it is possible I suppose. This in no way is intended to minimize the huge destruction that occurred, but in some cases, the post-earthquake claims and other records are valuable for research.

7. New York State Library Fire of 1911

With this note, I am probably getting beyond the commonly referred to fires. Quoting from the New York Genealogical Biographical Society website article entitled, "Fire at the New York State Library,"
In 1911, a fire in New York's State Capitol, Albany, destroyed an enormous amount of crucial historical and genealogical records. Read on to learn about the fire, see some of the astounding pictures, and learn about what was destroyed. We'll also detail two heroes of the fire, who saved countless precious historical resources from destruction in the days after.

Harry Macy Jr. wrote about this event and its impact on New York genealogy in the Spring 1999 issue of the NYG&B Newsletter (later renamed the New York Researcher) - this blog is based on that article, The 1911 State Library Fire And Its Effect On New York Genealogy, which is available for NYG&B members to read in the New York Knowledge Base.
This quote illustrates the fact that complete research in any given area may include joining a local or state genealogical society.

Well that is enough of my list for now. I suggest that if you suspect a fire, look for the smoke. In other words, take the time to do your research about the real effects of the fire before giving up on your research. 

MyHeritage Promptly Responds to Data Breach
I recently wrote about a cybersecurity incident reported by The company has been rapidly responding after learning about the incident and has issued an update. Here is an outline that was sent to me in an email of the steps they have taken to respond.
Steps We’ve Taken
  • Immediately upon learning about the incident, we set up an Information Security Incident Response Team to investigate the incident. We have engaged a leading, independent cybersecurity firm to conduct comprehensive forensic reviews to determine the scope of the intrusion; and to conduct an assessment and provide recommendations on steps that can be taken to help prevent such an incident from occurring in the future.
  • We have notified relevant authorities as per GDPR.
  • We set up a 24/7 security customer support team to assist customers who have concerns or questions about the incident.
  • We started a process to expire all passwords on MyHeritage, requiring our users to set a new password. You can read more about this in the follow up announcement we issued on June 5, 2018.
  • We added support for Two-Factor Authentication.
MyHeritage also outlined what the users of the program should do. Here is that outline.

What You Should Do 
1. Change your password on MyHeritage. 
Changing your password is a prudent and recommended practice. After doing this, you’ll be safer, because even if someone else has your password they will not be able to access your MyHeritage account from now on.

Read our FAQ article explaining how to change your password on MyHeritage. If you are using our mobile app or the Family Tree Builder genealogy software, first change the password on the website and then set the same new password on the mobile app and/or Family Tree Builder. 
For maximum security, change passwords often and avoid using the same password on different services and websites, so if your password is ever compromised on one of them it will not be used to access the others. 
2. Add Two-Factor Authentication (optional). 
Two-Factor Authentication is an extra layer of security for your account, designed to ensure that you’re the only person who can access your account, even if someone knows your password. Two-Factor Authentication allows you to authenticate yourself using a mobile phone in addition to a password, which further hardens your MyHeritage account against illegitimate access, because others don’t have access to your mobile phone. For more details, see our blog post
For now, there are no other actions that you need to take as a result of this incident.
All of these suggestions really apply to your general use of the internet. They are good suggestions for all websites where there are passwords. Some people suggest using a password service in the form of an online company that stores or encrypts your passwords. The problem with this concept is what if that service is compromised? But, you can control the situation by using good online practices and changing your passwords from time to time.

The real challenge is for those of us who have hundreds of passwords. Managing those can be a real challenge.