Category Archives: How To Puzzle

I have always wondered if it was possible to put two names within the surname field in and not screw up the searching algorithms in Ancestry. Everyone I have ever asked either doesn’t know or says try it and see. Ya well, time marches on and then tonight I accidentally copied a record with a graphic character in the name field. And the copy took!

See the funny character after my grandfather’s name? That is some kind of a UTF-8 or UTF-16 character that can be copied from place to place! Yes, I know it is a picture of a DNA strip. I can envision hanging this character on my DNA match people.

But meanwhile, my original question has yet to be answered. Is it possible to put two names in a surname field, like for example “Tenorio Franich”? If it is, there should be no difference if the surname field contained a regular name followed by a space followed by that funny character above.

I will try to place it here: “Robeson 🧬” . Humm, this blog system takes it. Trust me, it shows up in color some places, and not others. The important thing is that Ancestry shows it in color. Perhaps you too, if you are so inclined, can copy it from here and use it in your own Ancestry tree! Give it a go… 🧬 🧬 🧬

Meanwhile, can someone answer my original question?

And now I need to see if I can find a list of all the possible UTF-8/16 characters. There might be a different picture that we could use, like a ball, or bullet, or whatever. possibilities abound.

fun genealogically speaking

Here is a simple diagram with a simple challenge.  First fill in names of people that are related in parent/child relationships.  For example, put you at the bottom and fill in your parents and grandparents. The challenge then => add some other information.

  • For example, put in everyone’s birth date and birth place.
  • Or, place of birth and place of death.
  • Or, inheritable illness’s they had and cause of death.
  • Or, religion, politics and socioeconomic status.
  • Or, height and weight at mid-life.
  • Or, haplogroups, mitochondrial for all and Y-DNA for males.

For example, my wife’s maternal grandfather was described as 5’ 11”, 135 lbs, and swarthy with grey hair at 69 years of age in his Petition for Naturalization. We know his religion but have no idea where he stood politically.  

But I am really puzzled over his haplogroups.   A haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on either their paternal or maternal line. Particular haplogroups are associated with well-known ancestral groups such as the Vikings, Aboriginal Australians, and the Celts. We know he was born on an island in Croatia, we know the mitochondrial  haplogroup of his wife.  My wife knew him until she was about 12.  But there aren’t enough descendants testing at 23andMe to figure out his ancestral group!

This chart can be a challenge to any genealogist, amateur or otherwise.  Take a copy and give it a go. Below is a chart for a female with haplogroups.  I cannot figure out the mitochondrial groups for 2 of the men, but I am still working 😊

23andMe Tree Recalculation

Go ahead, drag the above slider left and right!

I have mentioned in the past about recalculating my tree in 23AndMe.  I said you had to find out how to do it within the Help system.  Arghh, finding where the function is located is a royal pain! But I did find it, and wrote the attached PDF document. If you are interested, you can download it. This is only for advanced folks. This worked for me, but let the buyer beware.

“If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent.” – Alan Turing

Google Alerts

Google Inc. makes lots of tools available to people, some of which are not often talked about.  Besides Searching, my favorite tool is called ALERTS.  Simply put, you create a regular Google search and then have Google run it for you every day! The system will email you if it finds something matching your criteria from the past 24 hours (older stuff is ignored). The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results—such as web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or scientific research—that match the user’s search term(s). 

To use Alerts, sign in to your Google account using the Gmail you want new discoveries to be sent to, then go to .  Then create a search and save it!  That’s it. You can have multiple alerts, each one is treated individually.

Presumably you have previously tested your search! Alerts doesn’t validate a search, it just runs it. Here are a couple of searches that I am running daily:

“snorkel ai”

starlink OR spacex AND ipo

Yes, of course you can include genealogical searches too.  But remember, the results will be newly published stuff, not previously published. Try it, free it is.

“We were born at just the right moment to help change everything.” – Eric Holthaus

Create Simple Block Charts

At the DNA Discussions group today, Gail Burk showed us a slick block chart of a portion of her family tree. When we discovered that the software used to create it was free, we all wanted to find out how! I promised to post the answer here in this site. Here is the information:

CLICK HERE to see the Rootstech video by Nicole Dyer titled “Organize your Dna Matches in a Diagram” to see how to create block charts of excerpts from your family tree. This video is aimed at documenting DNA in your family lines, but it can be used to display any block charts. It is using the free system at

(This reminds me of Visio!) Excellent. Thanks for the hint, Gail.

Microfilms in the Monterey California Family History Center

We have just added a PDF here in this blog-space that shows a list of all the microfilms that are housed here in the Monterey California Family History Center.

Even though FamilySearch is no longer making microfilms and fiche available for rent, our local Family History Center has about 5,000 “long term” films available to be viewed. Yes, some of these have been digitized and can be viewed in FamilySearch from home. But some are not. You can view and/or download the PDF file below which contains a list of the tape housed in Monterey FHC. Then, when you find a tape in your searching at, you can check here to see if we have it. If we do have it, then you can visit the center to view it.

Perhaps a few details about the report will help you use it.  Basically the report is a cross reference between the film number in FamilySearch (called SLC Number) and the film identifier here (called FHC Number).  The report is sorted in order of the SLC Number.  The PDF file is searchable.

The SLC Number is a 7 digit number, our report includes leading zeros.  Code of M means Film.  Films that start with 6 are actually Fiche. 

The FHC Number starts with ‘F-‘ followed by the state or country code.  It is used as a locator in our Library. So F-IA-25 means the 25th film in our Iowa group. 

Find the film first in Family Search. Then if you are interested in viewing the real thing, check this report to see if we have it.

If you need more help with using this report, perhaps we can create a Zoom “show-n-tell” meeting!  Ask Shelly about that.

The PDF file is in a submenu under FHC in the menu bar.  Find it here too:

Finding Rootstech 2021 Sessions

At the MoCoGenSo meeting in April we displayed some lists of the Rootstech 2021 sessions that are available for viewing.  These sessions are free and will be around for a full year! 
The PDF of ALL of the sessions can be found at the link below.  This 18 page document contains just the session title and speaker.  You can find the sessions you’re interested in by searching for the speaker at the Rootstech site.

To get the file, CLICK HERE.

If you loose track of this note, just search for “rootstech 2021 session list” and the link will appear at the top.
If you are interested in the list of just the DNA oriented sessions, you can find them here in our own web site.  This 7 page document contains not only the title and speaker, but it includes HOT LINKS to the Youtube version of the session.  Download the PDF and then just click the link to watch a show!

To get the file, CLICK HERE.

"Those who don't read have no advantage over those who can't.” – Mark Twain

SNP Tracker

I’m a member of a Y-DNA messaging group at the GROUPS.IO system powered by Google called Y-DNA-HAPLOGROUP-I .  It is usually a quiet group, most folks are old timer types who have long ago figured out where they came from.  (grin)  Once in a while a newcomer asks questions and someone always helps out.  (most haplogroup I folks are helpful, after all)

Today someone answered  a question from a searcher by recommending a website I had never seen before.  It is really quite slick, a tool that shows how your SNP traveled across the world, similar to the paths that the old Genographic site first implemented.  But this site show not only the path travelled by our SNP ancestors, but it includes a timeline.  There is an animated slider that shows anthropological time periods too.

Click here to try this SNP Tracker

This site does both Y-DNA and Mitochondrial DNA SNPs. Use your “terminal” SNP. Be sure to work thru the tabs at the top to see what is available.  If you know your haplogroup, give it a go…  Remember, you still have time before Rootstech starts!

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

Some disconnected and unrelated hints 

  1. If you are in a Zoom meeting on a Windows 10 computer and want to save something showing on the screen, it isn’t obvious how to do it.  To Capture your entire screen and automatically save the screenshot, tap the Windows key + Print Screen key. Your screen will briefly go dim to indicate that you’ve just taken a screenshot, and the screenshot will be saved to the Pictures > Screenshots.
  1. is a great site for building your genealogy tree.  I spend lots of time now adding descendants down to DNA matches.  Sometimes I want to send my new ‘cousin’ a relationship chart. There is a relationship chart built into Ancestry that is hidden!  In fact, I just found it the other day when poking around.  Go into the Profile page of the person in question.  In the upper section under the name there is a line that shows the persons relationship to you.  Click on it. Bingo!  Print to a PDF and save it, upload to the persons Gallery, email it, or print and save in your documentation notebook.
  1. In AncestryDNA if you want to easily look for new matches that you haven’t reviewed before, go to your Match List. Then filter your list by Unviewed.  I do this scan using the app in my iPad daily when eating breakfast!  There is a way to do this in MyHeritage, but it isn’t easy enough for breakfast. Use Sort by, then Most recent.

Building a Relationship Report

Relationships! We are related to all our DNA matches, somehow. The question I had was how many of my different cousins have I already tested, how many are deceased, and how many of those remaining should I try to “guilt-trip” into taking a DNA test?

Easy question to ask…. All I gotta do is run a report…. Humm, what report? Who has this report? Ancestry and MyHeritage doesn’t have a report that I need, neither does Rootsmagic. My problem is that when they tell me I can’t do something, I am like the teenage boy who says he will do it just to prove he can!

The DNA part is easy. All the companies who do DNA testing for genealogical purposes sort your matches by relationship. What I need is a relationship report from my tree! Not a one-to-one relationship chart, but a list of all my blood relatives. RootsMagic has a report that lists Name and Relationship. But no dates! I need dates, especially death dates. It is hard to get DNA from a deceased cousin! I need something like this:

Warbis, Maude    1881-1928     3rd cousin twice removed

After a short session with Google, I discovered that the PC program Legacy has a report that does just what I need! The report it builds has the dates included as part of the name field, which is really weird. But a quick run in Excel using formulas to reformat the name into did the trick. I now have 3 columns, Name, Dates and Relationship. Sortable!

To run this report, load your current data. In the Family View, navigate to yourself. Then Click on Tools, then Click Set Relationships. Now go to Reports in the main toolbar. Find the Relationship button in the Other section and run your report to CSV file. Or preview it!

My mother and father were about the same age. But my mother was the youngest of her eleven siblings, and my father was the oldest in his family. So, 11 of my 12 maternal first cousins are deceased! The only living one isn’t talking to anyone any more. And of my 11 paternal cousins, they are all living, but only one has tested! I had better start sucking up to my paternal first cousins!

In looking at the rest of my people, I suddenly have lost interest in doing a comparison. I have so many 1st cousins xx removed and 2nd cousins of all relationships, that I give up. Thank heaven for Thrulines! But, I did prove that I can produce that report!

”Success is where preparation met opportunity.” – Neil Armstrong