Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What Was Your Ancestor's Occupation?

by Heather Murphy

This week we were playing a family history game as a family and my son had to answer the question, "What occupation did one of your ancestors have?"  He had trouble thinking of an answer right away, not realizing his grandparents count as ancestors, but he knew at least one place where he could look to find occupations for ancestors he has never met.

There are several places to find what occupation helped ancestors provide for their families.  Census records exist in many countries and often include occupations.  Other sources include city directories and local histories.  While knowing your ancestors' occupations can help you know what their life was like, that information can also help you know if you have found the right person in your record searches.  If you come across a situation in which you find two people with similar names, dates, and places sometimes their occupation can help you determine which one is the "right" one.  Additionally, some occupations can lead to additional record groups, such as railroad employment or retirement records or school catalogs or yearbooks for teachers.

Sometimes the records may list occupation titles you don't recognize.  In other situations, the meaning of a job title may have changed over time.  For instance, the job of "fireman" did not necessarily mean someone who puts out fires.  It also was the job description of someone responsible for keeping the fire going in steam engines, such as for trains and steam boats.

Here are some websites that can help you determine what an occupational title meant:

Dictionary of Old Occupations: A-Z Index by Family Tree Researcher

World Through the Lens - Obscure Old English Census Occupations

London 1891 Census Transcription Blog - Victorian Occupations

Has knowing the occupation of your ancestor helped you in your research?

What interesting discoveries have you made about how your ancestors supported their families?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Which DNA Test Should I Take?

We are often asked, "Which DNA testing company should I test with?" That depends. If information on the direct paternal or maternal line is being sought, then FamilyTreeDNA is the only company that provides those tests. Otherwise, the autosomal DNA (atDNA) test is available from several companies including, FamilyTree DNA, My Heritage and new to the market, LivingDNA.

But what is the BEST? It would be hard to say but we want our DNA to be "seen" by as many people as possible in order to find those ancestral connections. We want to be in as many "gene pools" as possible. So how do you accomplish this? Take an DNA test. has some of the best sales and, right now, has the largest database. However, the other testing companies, except for 23andMe, allow the DNA raw data to be downloaded from and uploaded, for free at the time of this writing, to FamilyTree DNA, MyHeritage and LivingDNA. As of this writing, LivingDNA has not yet established access to the matches in the LivingDNA databases, but access is coming. It is also not known if that access will cost.

Here's the best news. The raw DNA data from can be downloaded and then uploaded FOR FREE at this time, to FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and LivingDNA. That's an additional three (3) gene pools your data can swim around in. AND, you can also upload to GEDmatch, which is a third party tool open to all raw DNA data.

Your wondering how? Thomas MacEntee has created a handout which explains how to download your raw data from each testing company and how to upload that data to the three companies that accept raw DNA data. He has given us permission to post his handout on our blog.

Downloading and Uploading Your DNA Test Data by Thomas MacEntee


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Member Involvement - Dupus Boomer and Wreaths Across America

by Heather Murphy

December was a busy month for most of us with all the added events the holidays bring.  A couple of our members reported their involvement in genealogically or historically related events in our community.

Dupus Boomer's PREFABulous Richland

TCGS member Connie Estep and Terry Andre presented Dupus Boomer's PREFABulous Richland on December 21st.  The presentation wove together the comic Dupus Boomer and the history of Richland's quick growth as Hanford needed workers.  You can find the handout here which contains additional resources on the topic and information about Richland walking and Hanford reactor tours.

Wreaths Across America

The motto of Wreaths Across America is "Remember. Honor. Teach."  The organization's birth resulted from a surplus of wreaths made by the Worcester Wreath Company.  The company decided to use the wreaths to honor veterans by placing them at grave markers in Arlington Cemetery.  Eventually, other people wanted to be involved and the movement grew to over 700,000 wreaths placed in over 1,000 locations throughout the country in 2014.  The goal of Wreaths Across America is for veterans to be remembered and honored long past their deaths.  You can find more information at

For the past four years, the Sons of the American Revolution - Mid-Columbia Chapter (SAR), Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and Eilan's Funeral Home have sponsored wreath laying in Richland.  This year's event happened on December 16th at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Richland, with about 20 people helping to lay 171 wreaths next to the grave markers of veterans.  Art Kelly participated in and reported on this year's event.

The group also honored William H. Johnston, who is the only Civil War veteran buried in Richland (in Resthaven Cemetery).  The following was read at the ceremony:

William Hadden Johnston by Richard W. Roddy - 12 Dec 2015

Today we honor the memory and service of William Hadden Johnston, born 22 Dec. 1843. As a 19 year old from Athens Ohio, he answered Mr. Lincoln’s call for volunteers from the various states to help preserve the Union. Pvt. William H. Johnston mustered into D Co. 75th Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry on 28 Oct. 1862. 75th Ohio was in 1st Division, 11th Corps, Army of the Potomac under Gen. Oliver Howard at the Battle of Chancellorsville and at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Pvt. Johnston was captured during the heavy fighting at Cemetery Hill during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, 2 July 1863. Sometime later he was exchanged for a Confederate prisoner as was custom during the first part of the war and rejoined his outfit.
August 1863, 75th Ohio was transferred with 1st Div., 11th Corps to Charleston Harbor in South Carolina while the other two Divisions of 11th Corp where sent to Tennessee to join Gen. Sherman for his famous march to the sea. 75th Ohio was at Charleston from August to September when it moved to Folly Island and later formed into mounted infantry and moved to Jacksonville, FL.  In August 1864, a small union force was attacked near Baldwin, FL just West of Jacksonville by elements of 2nd Florida Cav supported by some infantry.

A part of 75th Ohio mounted infantry war sent to Baldwin, FL in putative action against 2nd Florida Cav. This action did not go well and on 12 Aug 1864, Pvt. Johnston was wounded and captured. The surviving Union forces retreated to Jacksonville.  By this time in the war Union and Confederate forces were no longer exchanging prisoners, so Pvt. Johnston was sent to the prisoner of war camp at Andersonville.

Andersonville was a horror with overcrowding, and little or no sanitation, food, or medicine. Photographs of emaciated Union prisoners held at Andersonville taken at war’s end look very much look the later photo of NAZI Concentration Camp survivors of 80 years later.

Pvt Johnston was held in captivity from August 1864 until his liberation in April 1865. He survived and was mustered out 25 May 1865. The Commandant of the Camp at Andersonville was tried for war crimes and executed.

William H. Johnston returned to his home in Athens, Ohio were he married and raised a family. The early part of the 20th century found William Johnston in Los Angeles and later in the Seattle area. He died 26 Jan 1938, at the home of his son in Richland, WA.

We owe him thanks for his service and sacrifice in preserving the Union and should resolve to make it our purpose to keep his memory alive for future generations.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Additional Photos of December's Meeting

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December Meeting - Show Your Legacy

by Heather Murphy

We had a wonderful evening at our December meeting sharing pieces of our past and present.  At the beginning of our meeting we were presented with the 2018 TCGS Board, from left, Jim Macica - President, Art Kelly - Vice President, Margaret Dunn - Treasurer, (not pictured) Dan Metzger - Secretary.  We are grateful to them for their service.

There are several opportunities for additional members to be more involved in the functioning of the society.  We are looking for someone to fill the Membership Chair as well as assistants to other positions.  Oftentimes something comes up, such as an out of town trip or an unexpected illness, and our main volunteers could use an assistant to help with their load or in case of the previously mentioned situations.  If your could share a little bit of your time, please contact a member of the board to discuss how your hands could be of service.  You can find contact information here.

We had time for socializing and enjoying the many displays presented by our members regarding their family history or hobbies.  I have included a few of the wonderful displays below.

Dennis Armstrong presented a stitch work piece by Johanna Nilsson.  The small picture is of Johanna and some of her family members with the stitchery hanging on the wall on the left in her home.

Mary Kay Walker provided a lovely display of various purses and photographs of women.

Hula is an activity that Sandra Floberg has enjoyed.  She made nearly all of these items on display.  She explained that Kumulipo (the green book on the right) is a hula that tells the story of the world from its creation.  In one of her hula classes she was instructed to create a hula telling her own story beginning at her earliest known ancestor.  That project is what began her interest in genealogy.

Thank you to everyone who brought items to display.  It was a wonderful way to share a little bit of ourselves, and our families, with each other.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Timelines: How to Get More Out of What You Know

by Heather Murphy

Whenever you start researching an individual or family one of the most helpful things to do is make a timeline, or chronology, for them. By creating an outline of what you know you can gain ideas of where to search for the additional information you need and identify conflicts with the information you already have.  Timelines are especially useful with families that have not lived in the same place.

To create a timeline, look at the person/family you are researching and extract the dates, places, and people involved and put them into a spreadsheet or a table.  You can also write it out on paper, but inserting rows when you learn new information is more easily done in an electronic format. Using the table method makes it very easy to scan and interpret the data, in comparison to program generated timelines.

Sometimes you will start with very little about your ancestor when you begin, other times you will know a lot of information, and timelines help in either case.  You can better understand the migration of a family and where to look for records when you include all the data you have that would indicate where a family lived at a certain time.  This includes events in the lives of children, spouses, parents, and siblings if those events are likely to help in understanding the location of the family.

You can create as many columns as fit your needs, and sometimes it may vary depending on your specific reason for creating the timeline.  As you see below, this example includes the date of the event, location, identified the event, the person the event was for, other people of interest in the record, and the source of the information.  You can add rows to the table as you learn more about the family.

2 Feb 1836Bohemia/CzechBirthPeter DvorakDeath Certificate
Jan 1862Bohemia/CzechBirth - childJoseph Dvorak1900 U. S. Federal Census
abt 1865Bohemia/CzechBirth - childMaria DvorakPassenger List
abt Apr 1868Bohemia/CzechBirth - childFrank DvorakPassenger List
2 Dec 1868New York, New YorkArrivalPeter, Anna, Joseph, Maria, FrankBarb, Kath, Josefa, Wenzl Urban of Bohemia; Also a Jos Urban listed close in list, but from UngasteinPassenger List
28 May 1870Boscobel, Grant, WisconsinBirth - childAmelia DvorakFamily information
abt 1872WisconsinBirth - childJohn DvorakFamily information
24 Jul 1875Boscobel, Grant, WisconsinBirth - childAnna DvorakFamily information
4 May 1878Muscoda, Grant, WisconsinBirth - childJosephine DvorakFamily information
15 Aug 1884Brule, South DakotaBirth - childAnton DvorakFamily information
21 Aug 1888WisconsinBirth - childCharles DvorakFamily information
abt 1890IowaArrivalPeter Dvorak1915 Iowa State Census
29 Jul 1890Lourdes, Howard, IowaBuried - childFrank DvorakFind a Grave
12 Feb 1898Howard, IowaMarriage - childAnna DozarkTo John Viebrock. Dau of Peter and Anna (Urban). Witnesses Henry Viebrock and Josephine DozarkIowa Marriage Records
16 Jun 1900Saratoga, Howard, IowaCensusPeter, Ann, Charlie, Anton1900 U. S. Federal Census

By making a timeline for Peter Dvorak's family you can see his migration from Bohemia to the United States, through several states, and finally ending in Iowa.  By identifying what we know we can more easily look for inconsistencies in the information, identify questions that need answered, and get clues of where to look for additional information.  Below are some of the clues and questions gleaned from this timeline:

  1. In the 1870 Census Peter's family would most likely be living in Wisconsin.
  2. In the 1880 Census they could be living in either Wisconsin or South Dakota.
  3. Do birth records exist for these counties and states to verify family information?
  4. Is there any evidence to corroborate that Anton was born in South Dakota?  It seems abnormal that the family would move from Wisconsin to South Dakota, then back to Wisconsin and then down to Iowa within ten years and should be verified.
  5. Continue to look for Peter in Iowa in records past 1910, such as census, death, and cemetery.
Most genealogy database software, such as RootsMagic and Legacy, will also create timelines for you.  Often it is a feature that is not included with the free version.  It is most effective if you have been entering additional events, such as censuses and the buying/selling of land.  

Legacy Family Tree - Chronology View creates a timeline with the facts that are attached to your individual.  As you attach sources more facts are added to the timeline for that individual.  There are a few options for customization, such as showing Family Events (births of siblings, etc.) or Historical Insights (national elections, major earthquakes, etc.), and the ability to add any additional events. - Fact List (timeline)

Timelines are a great tool for identifying what you know and visualizing how your data works together.  They make it easier to recognize conflicting information and to identify where to look for additional information.  Timelines are one more tool to help you be a more organized genealogist and to coax more clues out of the information you already have.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ideas to Share Family History With Younger Generations at Family Gatherings

by Heather Murphy

With the end of the year comes opportunities to gather together generations of family.  Why not take advantage of that to share with your living family the people who came before them?  Remember to keep your ideas simple and brief to not overwhelm family members with too much information.  Pick out little pieces of interesting information to share and don't explain distant relationships in detail because most won't be able to follow you.

Family Memory Game

Print pictures of your ancestors, either on cardstock or regular paper and then paste the pictures onto cardstock.  On another set of cards, put the name of the ancestor and a fact about their life.  Use interesting facts about them and try to stay away from using dates and places.  Examples could include "grew up on a dairy farm", "came to the United States from Germany when he was a baby", "loved to grow flowers."  Turn the cards upside down and lay them out in a grid.  Players then take turns flipping over cards trying to match the picture with the name and fact that correspond.

A variation of this game is to only include the pictures of couples.  The goal is to match couples together.

Family Name Word Search

Make a word search with family names or other words that have significance to your family.  This website is free and does not print any advertising with your word search other than a small line referencing the website.  You can enter your own title, any instructions you want to include, and a list of words you want to use.  Simply type the words in the box separated by a space.

There a lot of options to personalize your puzzle, but don't let them overwhelm you.  If you don't want to change anything after typing in your words, scroll toward the bottom where you will find a large green button that says "Generate Word Search."  Another window will open with the puzzle.  You can then print or save your puzzle.

Question Ball

On a medium sized children's ball or beach ball write questions with a permanent marker that help you learn new things about each other.  Players get in a circle and toss the ball to someone.  The question closest to their right thumb is the one they get to answer.  You can get question ideas here or here.  Be sure to include multiple generations!

While genealogy is a lot of dates and places, the most memorable part are the stories.  Be ready to share little moments of your ancestors' lives, and your own, to help younger generations develop a curiosity and desire to gradually learn more about the family that came before them.