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.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The David Rumsey Map Collection

by Heather Murphy

As genealogists, knowing where things happened in the lives of our ancestors is vital to being able to learn more about those events.  Another great feature of combining technology and genealogical research is the ability to not only find current maps of the places we research, but also historical maps that were created closer to the time period in which we are searching.  The David Rumsey Map Collection is an amazing collection of maps that is worth using to gain a sense of place for your research.

The David Rumsey Map Collection, a private collection donated to Stanford University, is a collection of over 150,000 maps from around the world covering a time span mostly from the 16th century to the present.  The website for the collection,, contains over 80,000 images.  Viewers have several different options how to interact with the images, such as ordering prints or downloading files (when copyright allows), compiling slide shows or media groups, and overlaying maps to compare between them.

While there are many different viewers available, a good place to start is to use the LUNA Browser.  On the homepage look for a link under "Quick Links" on the right side of the page.  Read the brief information on the page including a few suggestions on how you can use the images and some tips on how to use the LUNA Browser.  Then click on the brown button near the middle of the screen titled, "Launch LUNA Browser."

Within the LUNA Browser is the ability to search the images.  In the upper right-hand corner is a search engine.  On the left side of the screen are categories that can filter your results.  It is sometimes beneficial to use both the search engine and the refining categories.  Also along the top of the Browser are options titled Collections, Explore, Create, Share, Embed, Print which you can explore, though not every option is available for every image.  It is amazing how many ways viewers are encouraged to use and share these beautiful images.

You can find more than maps showing geographic boundaries.  There are railroad maps, waterways, cartoon maps, advertising maps, atlases, and more.  Below is a page from a county atlas which included drawings of homes and sketches of individuals.

Combination Atlas Map Of Yates County New York. Compiled, Drawn and Published From Personal Examinations and Surveys. 1876.
David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

It allowed me to created a Media Group, in which I collected a few images of Washington in different decades.  I then chose the Embed option, and it gave me code to create the image box below.  Clicking on an image will take you to the website where you can take a closer look and save or share the image.

The features of the David Ramsey Map Collection are too numerous and detailed to cover in one blog post.  Take some time to peruse through their holdings.  I guarantee you will find some amazing maps to complement your genealogical research.

Monday, October 16, 2017

TCGS 2017 Seminar - Understanding Your DNA

by Heather Murphy

We had a wonderful seminar on Saturday presented by Diahan Southard.  Diahan thoroughly explained to over ninety attendees how DNA results can help with genealogy research and also their limitations.  We learned the differences between the various testing companies, how to analyze DNA matches within and use them to help with specific questions in our family trees, and even had a hands-on workshop.  Thank you to the seminar committee for putting on an excellent event!  Diahan does on-line consulting and has several DNA quick guides available for purchase at

Seminar attendees

Heritage Books provided a wide selection of books for purchase

Diahan's booth was always busy

Thanks to Art Kelly for a wide selection of items for the silent auction

Friday, October 13, 2017

Share the Wealth

Have you read a blog post that you have found interesting or useful?  Now at the bottom of each blog post you can chose popular social media sites and share with your friends what you have learned.  Go ahead and help others to learn more about researching their family history.