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 https://www.google.com/alerts .  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


Family History Fanatics Virtual Conference

MoCoGenSo receives lots of adverts for seminars and such.  This one sounds interesting and the price is right.  Perhaps some will be interested.

If any members of the Monterey County Genealogical Society are looking for an opportunity to learn more about genealogy research, Devon Noel Lee (#1 genealogy YouTube channel – Family History Fanatics) and Lisa Louise Cooke (#1 genealogy podcast – Genealogy Gems) will be producing a Back to Research virtual conference on Saturday, September 11th.  Speakers and topics will include:

Lisa Louise Cooke – How to Reopen and Work a Genealogical Cold Case
Devon Noel Lee – Creating Simple and Complex Clue Webs to Solve Family Mysteries
Lisa Louise Cooke – The Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology 
Devon Noel Lee – Sifting Through the Townsends 

The online sessions will begin at 10 AM Eastern Time on September 11th. A final panel discussion will end the day.  All registrants will be able to view the conference for 30 days.  Register and get your questions answered by two of the most popular genealogy educators! Presentations are live, not pre-recorded, and you can ask questions throughout.

The Early Bird Price is only $19.99 until August 31st and then it will be $24.99

More information is available on the website: https://www.familyhistoryfanatics.com/back2research

Family Sparks: The Family History Radio Hour at 90.7 fm

There is a local radio program that features Family Histories run by Daniel Spelce, a regular at some of our MoCoGenSo meetings.  The Family History Radio Hour airs on the 4th and 5th Monday of every month, from 6:00 – 7:00 pm. There’s a 4th Monday in every month; a 5th Monday occurs only four months of each year.

Listeners can tune in to KSQD Community Radio for the Central Coast at 90.7 fm on the radio dial; KSQD also streams live over the internet at www.ksqd.org. If a listener wants to hear a program again, or misses the scheduled broadcast, the KSQD Two-week Archive at the station’s web site allows a convenient flexibility.

The 40th Family Sparks program is coming up on Monday, August 23, when Aptos pharmacist Maria Mueller, shares some of her family stories.  She is another genetic genealogy enthusiast.

Believing all family histories are interesting and important, Daniel interviews people from all walks of life. A reasonably clear, strong voice and desire to share family are the simple necessities of Family Sparks guests. Folks can contact Daniel about their interest in sharing family history stories with KSQD listeners or suggest others who may be interesting in doing so, at danielspelce@ksqd.org.

Off the Charts : Presenting Ancestors’ STories meets Wed. 8/18/2021 via Zoom @ 1:30 pm

family tree symbol icon logo design template

We are a genealogy group for people who like to think outside the box and beyond the chart. We exchange support for our work and excitement about how we’re sharing it. Our meetings include topics and speakers on writing, crafts, photo projects, organization, trips, reunions, issues, and much more.

Wednesday Aug 18th @ 1:30-3:30 ==> Contact Kathy knielsen68@gmail.com or Karen 917-2042 for Zoom meeting details.

This Month:”Grow Your Story with Land Research” by Junel Davidson

Land records are a good source of genealogical and biographical information about our ancestors. Although often overlooked, land records can provide facts not included in other sources. Researchers may find evidence of relationships, dates and locations of events and proof of migration in addition to property information. Deeds and other documents may have clues that lead to new sources. Land research can help to fill in gaps in your story!

This online session will demonstrate how to access digitized land records available at FamilySearch and selected local recordkeeper sites in the United States.

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 www.diagrams.net.

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


Using our tools

MoCoGenSo’s DNA Discussion Group will be meeting Wednesday with an open forum. Join us via Zoom. Feel free to drop in for conversation and stay for lunch.

They say that the pandemic has given lots of folks extra time these days to work on their genealogy. Perhaps, but there is still never enough time.

The wife and I have done our DNA tests at the “big 4” of course, and every so often I make the rounds looking for new matches. Never underestimate that auto-tree at 23andMe.com – it can be full of surprises. Once built, the tree remains static. But you can and should refresh the tree periodically. It is a pain to figure out how to refresh it, but it can be done via the help system.

We discovered a new branch of 4 cousins in my wife’s refreshed tree the other day that contained people we had never heard of before and the branch was placed in an impossible position. After a couple of weeks of sleuthing, we have decided that the stories about her grandfather’s escapades were true! How else can you have a half first cousin show up out of nowhere!

23andMe.com provides lots of information about DNA matches that are really useful in solving puzzles. Birth year, haplogroups, shared matches, triangulation, etc. Add a subscription to Ancestry.com to the mix for source searching and you can solve lots of thorny NPEs. Ancestry.com has tree building and a bigger match base, but 23andMe.com provides so many more DNA tools. You really need to test at both places.

The centimorgans Tool at DNA Painter is invaluable at justifying tree placement. In addition, Genetic Affairs can create an extremely useful cluster analysis from 23andMe data. I ran their Auto Cluster tool on the wife’s 23andme Me data and am still finding new information.

The MoCoGenSo DNA Discussion meetings are a better place to talk about this stuff. I hate typing…. Perhaps I can show-n-tell this case at some future meeting. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to learning about Gail Burk’s methods used at tomorrow’s meeting. See you tomorrow noon on Zoom.

DNA Discussions Wednesday Noon: Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 897 1823 5118
Passcode: 738495



DNA Discussions – zoom at noon on Wednesday – August 4th

MoCoGenSo’s DNA Discussion Group will be meeting Wednesday with an open forum. Join us via Zoom. Feel free to drop in for conversation and stay for lunch.

Check out this great page full of information for newcomers to genetic genealogy isogg.org/wiki/Wiki_Welcome_Page

This meeting we will have a special presentation by Gail Burk about her search for ancestors. See description below.

Click to Join Meeting: Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 897 1823 5118
Passcode: 738495


For more than 40 years, Gail has been trying to find the parents of her second great-grandfather, the elusive James Foster Waterbury. She has finally made a bit of recent progress in cracking this brick wall through the slow amalgamation of clues gleaned from many diverse sources. Gail uses a multi-faceted approach that combines traditional genealogical research with DNA analysis. This presentation outlines some of the strategies she has employed in the process of working on her Waterburys, and will focus on the many tools available at Ancestry.com.

Gail Burk is a long-time member of the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County, where she has served in a number of Board positions, including President. Gail graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in art, and minored in history. She has been an active genealogist since 1977. For many years, Gail also participated in a weekly writing group and a monthly sketching group. During the pandemic, she has devoted much time and effort in attempting to break down some of her genealogical brick walls. As Gail’s granddaughter says, Gail has become very “sleuthy.”


”Maybe if we tell people the brain is an app, they will start using it.” – Morgan Freeman


Monthly Meeting – August 5, 2021 – “Connecting the Italian-Swiss Families of Our Central Coast” by Midge Buchert & Sandy Peterson

Sandy Peterson shares clips from a 2019 video interview with Midge Buchert, who discusses her experiences tracking down long-lost ancestors of many Italian-Swiss families now living on the Central Coast of California. Her story is both inspiring and fascinating, and not just for those interested in searching for their roots.
Learn some of Midge’s research strategies and the tools she uses in her pursuit of Swiss ancestors. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the presentation.

Midge Buchert was first introduced to the Santa Maria LDS Church’s Family History Center in August 1992 and has been haunting it ever since, doing genealogy research for herself, and then serving as a volunteer for several years. Over 10 years ago, she
began researching Catholic Church records of Ticino, Switzerland for a friend whose Donati ancestors came from the village of Broglio. These records were written in Latin, and because she has knowledge of the language, she’s been researching Ticino records
ever since for the many California Central Coast families who are descendants of Ticino Swiss immigrants. It has been challenging, rewarding and addictive – she is still involved today!

Sandy Peterson has always lived on the Central Coast. She has been researching her family history since 1988. A few years later, she began volunteering in the Santa Maria Family History Center, and began teaching a few “how to” classes. From 2015-2019, she
served as the Family History Center director in Santa Maria and has served as the Santa Maria Valley Genealogical Society president two times. She loves researching her Polish, Danish, German, Welsh, English (etc.) ancestry, plus helping others to discover their roots and make connections with cousins. One of Sandy’s favorite pastimes is to create graphic art collages from the documents, photos, and maps relating to her ancestors.

The Zoom meeting will start at 7:00 pm sharp. Zoom meeting details will be sent by invitation only. If you are not a member and wish to attend, send an email with your email address to our Membership VP, Marilyn Ruccello

If you are not familiar with Zoom, click here.


”The young will get old, if they are lucky!” – Francine Prose


Kathy Nielsen Presents….DNA: The Key to Uncovering Your Family History

Register now for the program in August, a reminder will be sent!

On Zoom….August 12, 2021 4:00, Hosted by the Monterey Public Library

DNA has had a major impact on the traditional study of genealogy and on law enforcement. Adoptees employ DNA to locate their birth families and law enforcement agencies use DNA to identify potential suspects. Join us as we explore what DNA might reveal about our own ancestors and living relatives. We will examine test options, identify DNA companies, interpret results, discuss how to connect with “cousins,” and touch on the future of this fascinating science. 

Kathy Nielsen: Kathy Nielsen is a reference librarian and an educator. She is currently a popular genealogy speaker on the Monterey Peninsula. She has been featured on Lisa Louise Cooke’s weekly YouTube program, Elevenses. She is a co-founder of the Monterey County Genealogy Society’s special interest writing group, Off the Charts. Kathy incorporates her skills as a historian, storyteller, and librarian in her search for her family’s history.

This program takes place on Zoom, or participants may join by phone. Registration closes an hour before the program. The Zoom access information will be sent to registered participants shortly before the program begins. 

Program Registration.  Check out the EVENTS Page at the Monterey Public Library.  https://montereypl.libcal.com/event/7789709

Volunteering at the FHC

In reply to: What are the requirements to be a volunteer librarian.

There is not a real requirement list, and you do not have to be a member of MoCoGenSo nor the LDS Church. You would be working for the Family History Center.

What you do need is an interest and experience in genealogy and a willingness to help other people learn about their own family history. Volunteer workers usually spend about 4 hours a week in the FHC in Seaside helping one-on-one who ever drops in.

Jo Ann Robinson is the Director and volunteers report to her. She is the “hiring manager”. Obviously you would need to contact her.

But, if I were you, I would first go over to the FHC first and look around. Talk to the current volunteers and see if you are still interested. Then call Jo Ann.

The FHC is open this week Tuesday 9-12 and Thursday 1:30-4:30.

Do drop in….

Jim Robeson, a 10 year FHC volunteer, and the Webmaster at MoCoGenSo