Category Archives: How To

Junel’s Handout about using the Courthouse is here

Last night, Junel Davidsen gave a talk at the MoCoGenSo General Meeting via Zoom. A handout was distributed to those in attendance. The talk and handout are about using Courthouse records to further your genealogical searching.

Junel has made the handout available for downloading temporarily (6 months) by all. Having this file, which is full of hot links, is almost as good as having been there!

To get the file, Click here.

If you see Junel or talk to her, give her a big thanks.

Using this site

It is weird how these blogs work. Posts drop into the front page from the top and get pushed down. Which makes posts seem to read backwards. Every so often, I need to remind “Followers” that there are other pages here. Be sure to sometimes just go to and browse around.

One of my favorite pages here is a list of blogs where there is so much to learn. This is a good page to remember during rainy days!

Another tricky thing about the MoCoGenSo blog is that most posts here are categorized and the category can be searched for. The one category that I use myself a lot is “How To”. I use that category to keep track of those posts that tell us how to do something. You can browse through the list as a memory aid.

Family Tree Editing

Suppose you have a family tree built. But you know you have errors in the data and want to edit it. If you have a PC and also have one of those genealogy programs used for family trees, like Legacy, Roots Magic, Family Tree Maker, Family Historian or Reunion, they will have a built-in editing report that can find common errors.  I hate to admit it, but I have lots of these errors, like died before born, missing dates, married too young, no gender specified, etc.   In fact, when writing this post, I discovered my tree had 8 people that had NO parents, children nor spouses! They were simply single entries — Ancestry had never alerted me to this fact.  Editing our data is another meeting MoCoGenSo could create.  

Meanwhile, many of us do not have a standalone genealogy program. We don’t want to be bothered, or we do not have a PC. If for example, you have and a tablet, how are you going to edit your tree?  One way is to export a Gedcom and then present it for free to a website called LearnForeverLearn.  (I said present because you don’t actually upload the file, the program reads the data into memory.)  I talked about this previously here

If your tree is in Ancestry, just download a Gedcom and let this site process it for you. If you don’t have a PC, come into the Family History Center and do it there!

A validation report is run when you first read the Gedcom.  You can get a copy later too by clicking on the Options icon in the upper left.  

While you are there, inside the Options icon, check out the Country/Flag option.  This can be quite a kick, depending on your tree, of course. The option displays a flag bases on the birth location of your ancestor. I just might display this at a future DNA Discussion meeting!

The tool is called “Family Tree Visualization” and it can be found here:

Saving your family tree

More thoughts in the rain.  Suppose you are one of the lucky ones who has researched and created a rather large family tree.  You want to preserve the data and share it with others, but there are many reasons why you can’t. Not everyone wants to use FamilySearch, especially when living people are involved.

The funny thing is, no one ever talks about this kind of a puzzle during the meetings here at MoCoGenSo.  We act like everyone in genealogy is just out to search or source. Trust me, I am not about to create a “talk” here about various ideas to help with this issue.  Following is just a couple of ideas that might lead someone to think outside the box. 

If just preserving the data is more important than retaining a database, I suggest that HTML will continue to exist for at least as long as other options.  Thus I would consider using GedSite to create HTML files of the entire project a very good preservation alternative.  While this does not save the project as a database, it does preserve all the data in a very readable format. 

GedSite, developed by John Cardinale, creates web pages from a GEDCOM file. It generates either narrative or grid style person pages, a master index, a surname index, source pages, and any other pages you wish to add. You can review the site on your own PC before you share it with anyone. You can publish it on the web, or distribute it via a DVD or flash drive. 

Find out more here:

There is also an archive hosting plan from Family History Hosting LLC operated by John Cardinal which ensures your genealogy files will stay online for 10 years from your last payment. Frankly, this method may be easier than trying to create a blog yourself and then building the HTML reading system yourself. You can have your own family tree web site! 

Find out more here:

I am not trying to “push” these products. In fact, I don’t use them myself. But they have a good reputation, and I am putting this information out to help folks who might have a need. Creating an HTML dump of my family tree is on my long todo list! 

CentiMorgan Percentages

23andMe is one of my favorite sites for DNA working.  But it has a quirk that is irritating, it show percentages of matching centiMorgans on the Match list page, not a raw value.  Sure, it is easy to click through to the chromosome browser, but that is an extra step.  I have become used to seeing how many (quantity) centiMorgans I match with whomever.

This morning, while waiting for the rain, I decided to consult Google.  Hey hey, all I have to do is multiply the percentage by 68 and I have a close approximation of the number.  What the heck, I said to myself. 68?  Where did that come from?  Besides, multiplying by 68 in my head is kinda tricky. I need to at least understand this first….

Two sites proved useful.  

Lisa Louise Cooke said: You can see the percentage of shared DNA from the main DNA Relatives home page. To convert the percentage into centiMorgans, just multiply your percentage by 68 (that will at least get you close). You can also see total shared cMs in the chromosome browser tool (go to Tools > DNA Relatives > DNA).

3.19% DNA shared => 3.19 * 68 = 217 centiMorgans

Another site said: Every person has approximately 6800 centiMorgans of DNA. This number includes both copies of each numbered chromosome, or approximately 3400 centiMorgans inherited from each parent.

So, if you share 217 centiMorgans with a match, just do this calculation:

217 / 6800 = 3.19% shared DNA

Google and YouTube Tips for Genealogists

Last night, Dayna Jacobs gave a talk at the MoCoGenSo General Meeting via Zoom. A handout was distributed to those in attendance. The talk and handout are about Google and YouTube tips for genealogists. Dayna has made the handout available for downloading by all. Having this file, which is full of searching examples, is almost as good as having been there!

To get the file, CLICK HERE.

If you see Dayna out and about, give her a big thanks. It was a great meeting and I learned quit a few new things. 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