Category Archives: How To

Things to Remember when you go to your local Family History Center

Some of our MoCoGenSo members volunteer at the local Monterey Family History Center (FHC).  We see lots of different people over the years and it is always a pleasure to help newcomers get their feet wet!  Ancestors are free at the FHC 🙂

But many folks forget the same things when they come to a FHC for the first time.

  • Bring a flash drive. Call it a thumb drive or USB stick, whatever.  If you do find something on our computers, you can print it of course.  But if you have a thumb drive, you can take a digital copy with you!  And share it and print it many times. The FHC does NOT supply USB sticks.
  • Bring or remember the passwords for your Email and for your Ancestry.com account or your FamilySearch account (or any other account you need help with). If we help you create a FamilySearch account, it will send an email to you for verification.  You either need to have your cell phone or your password!  Likewise, if we help you download your DNA data file, you will need your email access.
  • Bring something (paper, charts, notes, etc.) that has the BMD information for the ancestors (or their close relatives) you are researching. BMD is Birth, Marriage, Death, The info needed is name, date & place. Bring whatever you have, but don’t bring original records.

Bring those things with you and your visit will go more smoothly!


”Failure to plan is planning to fail.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Counting SNPs in a raw data file with Excel

At the DNA Sig meeting in May 2019, I showed an Excel file containing my MyHeritage Raw Data file with a table of quantities of SNPs per Chromosome.  Some people wanted to know how to do the same for their data.  I am finally getting around to telling how.

To do this requires a few steps.

  • Download your data file from your provider.
  • Uncompress the ZIP file.  Usually the raw file is a CSV file.
  • Import the CSV file into Excel
  • Delete the first few descriptor lines.
  • Put column headings into the file.
  • Save the file as an Excel file
  • Create a NAME Range over the Chromosome column.  In the snapshot below, I created a NAME called ALLDATA which covered all of my data. Do whatever is easier for you.
  • Manually create column F, called CHROM below, which contains just a number for each Chromosome.  You will need 1-22.
  • In column G, called COUNT below,, use the COUNTIF function over the NAME Range (ALLDATA) to count the associated value in column F. Copy that formula down through the 22 rows.
  • Add a SUM at the bottom of column G to verify totals

It is harder to write this how-to post than it is to do the actual tally.  If you have a spreadsheet program with a COUNTIF function, go ahead, do it for your data.  If you have tested at multiple companies, you could compare totals for each!  Enjoy…

AncestryDNA and Other Goodies (a test covering this will be given at the DNA Sig)

Ancestry DNA for someone else, like child, parent, etc. who doesn’t want to be bothered with an account:

  • You can create an e-mail account in their name, although you will control it. Any of the free email providers will do.
  • You do not need to purchase Ancestry subscriptions for them, particularly if you already have one for yourself. When you activate the DNA kit, that will create an Ancestry account, but without a subscription. You can then – acting as the third party – grant yourself permission to manage their account.

AncestryDNA has 7 different groups for predicted relationships:

  • Parent/Child
  • Immediate Family (full siblings)
  • Close Family (half siblings, grandparent/grandchild, aunt/uncle/niece/nephew)
  • 1st cousin
  • 2nd cousin
  • 3rd cousin
  • 4th cousin
  • Distant Cousin.

Here are some helpful sites explaining some of this DNA stuff.  Not in any special order.

Understanding Your AncestryDNA Matches –  LegacyTree

https://www.legacytree.com/blog/understanding-ancestrydna-matches

Understanding Your Relationship to DNA Matches After Autosomal Testing–  Colleen in YouTube (a college assignment!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ6yme0t-ZA

First Steps When Your DNA Results are Ready –  DNAeXplained

https://dna-explained.com/2019/08/06/first-steps-when-your-dna-results-are-ready-sticking-your-toe-in-the-genealogy-water/

ThruLines Tidbits by Jim Bartlett at Segment-ology

https://segmentology.org/2019/08/01/how-does-thrulines-work/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/a-few-thrulines-are-false-and-some-are-misleading/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/thrulines-helps-with-y-dna-and-mtdna/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/add-thrulines-info-into-match-notes/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/thrulines-and-clusters-and-snowballs/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/use-match-notes-from-thrulines-to-identify-clusters/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/thrulines-has-x-ray-vision/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/help-thrulines-by-adding-children-and-grandchildren/

https://segmentology.org/2019/07/29/thrulines-finds-your-common-ancestors/

Ancestry Tree Sharing Hint

The other day I tried to share my tree in Ancestry.com with another Ancestry member. I used the Ancestry user name during the Share steps and it did not work. I have shared my tree successfully in the past and so was confused about what was wrong. I sent a note to Customer Services and received a reply within a couple of hours. I decided to share the answer here in case this has stumped others in the past..

Ancestry has both usernames and display names. Some people choose to show their display name in place of a username which appears to be the case here.

In order to share your tree, you’ll need either the username or email address which she can find when she click’s her display name in upper left corner while she’s signed in and share either of those with you so that you can send the invitation.


” Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffet


As long as we remember, they never die!

“Now I’ve heard everything!”. The older one gets, the more often one might say that. Yet the world keeps surprising. This morning I discovered that someone sells gravestone cleaning solution kits!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great idea. They say that solving puzzles causes a dopamine rush which in turn causes addictive behavior. Which, they go on to say, is how genealogy can become addictive! Let me warn you, finding “lost” tombstones can also become addictive.

This picture is known as “The Genealogist Adventure Park.”. A copy of it is hanging in the Monterey Family History Center in Seaside.

This picture is of a genealogist getting a dopamine rush!

And this picture is of a tombstone cleaning kit which is available to buy at Billiongraves.com. Next time you go sleuthing for someone’s grave site and you know it is going to be an old one, perhaps you should carry a bottle of D/2 Biological Solution. Just to honor your ancestor, of course.

40% off Sale Price

The Original

How To Clean

What makes this especially rewarding is that just last night at the MoCoGenSo Board meeting, we discussed creating a “tour a graveyard” excursion for locals in the Monterey County area. If you are interested, contact any Board member. See Board of Directors


“You know you’re a genealogist if you’ve ever had your photo taken in front of a tombstone and you were actually smiling!” — my Quote excel file


Searching with Google

A few years ago I taught a class here about using Google for searching, genealogically speaking. The other days, I ran into a pile of handouts that I had prepared for that class that were not given away. I will drop them off at the FHC for people who are not familiar with Google search syntax items. The syntax has not changed over the years.

I am also including a PDF of that handout here: GOOGLE SYNTAX.

I recently opened a Pro account at Geni.com and was reminded that anyone can search specifically in Geni’s One World Tree using Google for free! Using syntax described in the above file, just do a search that looks like this.  The plus sign restricts it to Geni only.

+site:geni.com “andrew robeson” OR “andy robeson”


“Study predicts more dead Facebook users than living by 2070.” – Oxford Internet Users