Monday, 30 June 2014

Just "Google It"

By:  Tina Marie

Sometimes the simplest research strategy can surprise you by providing a lead to a wealth of helpful information.  A few weeks ago, I decided to Google the name of one of my husband’s ancestors.  I chose his maternal 3x great-grandfather William Thompson because he was a Civil War veteran who we knew very little about.  Since his name was so common, I figured after I Google'd him there would be numerous resources that would have to be sorted through before I found the correct William Thompson.  That proved to be untrue.

June 14th early Saturday morning, I Google'd “William Thompson Civil War 29th Colored Regiment” and up came 444,000 possible results.  The first resource on the list was, "Researching African-American Soldiers of the Civil War."  It was written by Michael Hait on the website  The article covered the history of the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War and how to locate their military records.

As I read through the article there was no mention of a William Thompson, then about ¾ of the way through the article there was a copy of a pension file for Sarah J. Thompson.  The author had used the document as an example in the article.  Sarah was the wife of William Thompson and she was applying for her widow’s pension.  Since I did not know if this was the correct William and Sarah Thompson, I didn't do the genealogy dance, but I definitely felt the excitement brewing.

Widow's Pension application for Sarah J. Thompson

As the article suggested, I linked to the website and searched for a military record for William Thompson.  I found his draft registration record, compiled military service record, casualty report, register of death, veteran grave site record, and the pension index.  I also was able to get a regiment history of his unit.  By the time I finished it was late Saturday evening and I had pieced together the life of William Thompson.

Civil War Draft Registration for William Thompson (4th from top)

William Thompson was born circa 1824 in New Brunswick, Middlesex, New Jersey.  He married Sarah Jane Mitchell on October 1, 1844, in New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut.  They had six children:  Mary (b. 1844), Harriet (b. 1846), Martha (b. 1848), William A. (b. 25 Jul 1852), Ann Elizabeth (b. 8 Aug 1854), and Stephen (b. 8 Dec 1861).  Martha is my husband’s direct ancestor.  William was a free man.  He volunteered enlistment on December 22, 1863, in Company H of the 29th Regiment Connecticut Colored Volunteer Infantry.  He was a cook at the time of his enlistment.  He fought in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights in Virginia on September 29 and 30, 1864, as part of the Siege of Petersburg.  There were 3,300 Union casualties from that Battle, and 391 lost their lives.  William was listed on the casualty list as wounded on September 30, 1864.  He was treated at Ft. Monroe General Hospital in Virginia where he later died on November 26, 1864.  He was buried at Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia.  Sarah and three of their children received a pension from the government.

I was fortunate to find out so much information about this ancestor.  Not all Google searches lead you to helpful information, but it sure was worth the try to "Google it".

29th Regiment Connecticut Colored Volunteers

Wm Thompson, Hampton National Cemetery (photo taken by Jim Adcox)

Sunday, 29 June 2014

One hundred years ago

I was alerted by a blog post at Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories that one hundred years ago was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie. The assassination is widely acknowledged to be a trigger for World War I. Bill Smith states
What seemed as a minor event in Central Europe, 100 years ago today, was not even reported in many American newspapers in the US until two days later. An assassination in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina was the event.

The assassination as illustrated by Achille Beltrame of the Italian newspaper Domenica del Corriere, 12 July 1914.

The news made page 3 of the Ballarat Courier on 30 June and was widely reported throughout Australia.
CABLEGRAMS. (1914, June 30). The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from
 Some Australian newspapers, such as Perth's Daily News, reported the assassination on Monday 29 June.

From now for the next five years there will be a significant focus on World War I.

Many families, including both mine and my husband's, had young men who served in the war who were killed, and others who were injured.

As a family historian, if I come across a young man born in the 1890s, the first thing I do is check for a military record.

While the military records are useful for family historians it seems worthwhile to pause and remember the suffering represented by those records.

I am sure that as our forebears read the newspapers on 29 and 30 June 1914 they would have no idea of what that assassination might mean for them and their families.

Looking forward to August!

The end of June has arrived rather quickly, which means one more month until we hit August. August is a rather exciting month because it is National Family History Month (NFHM) in Australia! 

I discovered National Family History Month in 2012 when it was originally a week in August. It was implemented by the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) in 2006 as a week long event in August, however, was expanded to a month in 2013 (The Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations Inc, 2012). Expanding to a month allows for more participation from societies and other organisations, and also allows for greater public participation.

So what happens during NFHM? Well, events are conducted all over Australia and New Zealand that focus on genealogy and can include seminars, talks, workshops, and open days to name a few. Events can be held by genealogical and family history societies, libraries, plus many other organisations! Those that wish to hold an event can add it to the calendar on the NFHM Website. This allows everyone to see what events are being held in their relevant location. In Queensland, there are events being held in Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Cairns, Noosa, Moreton Bay, and Brisbane plus a few other places. If you cannot attend an event, there are many things you can do to celebrate NFHM in your own way such as going to cemeteries, visiting your local Archives, and even little things like scanning family photos and organizing your family history information. There are also online events this year. One of those online events is a Google Hangout on August 1st, which will be hosted by the lovely Jill Ball. You can also keep up to date with NFHM on the Facebook Page, which passed 1000 likes the other day by the way! Yay! This year the launch is being held in Canberra at the National Archives of Australia and should be awesome for those that attend!

I cannot end this post without acknowledging the wonderful Shauna Hicks.  I was fortunate enough to meet Shauna when I attended the launch of NFHM last year in Brisbane. She has been the sole coordinator of the National Family History Month in Australia and does a fantastic job!

Anyway, here's to an exciting National Family History Month downunder! 

Oh, if any of you wish to see the video I did about my time at the launch of NFHM last year, it is here.
I might have forgotten to post this when I arrived in Sydney last night, but better than late than never!

Until next time genea-friends.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Genealogy Resources at the Library of Virginia

The city of Richmond, Virginia, dates to the early 17th century and has been crucial to the development of the Colony of Virginia, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. It became the capital of the commonwealth in 1780. The city is situated on a high hill overlooking the falls of the James River.

"Richmond, from a hill above the waterworks" circa 1834
Engraved by W J Bennett from a painting by G Cooke
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The Library of Virginia, located in Richmond, was founded by the Virginia General Assembly in 1823. It is now the library agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia and is the archival and reference library for the state. It houses what many believe to be the most comprehensive collection of materials about Virginia government, history and culture. According to Wikipedia, its research collection includes “808,500 bound volumes; 678,790 public documents; 410,330 mircoforms, including 46,684 reels of microfilmed newspapers; 308,900 photographs and other pictorial materials; 101.8 million manuscript items and records; and several hundred thousand prints, broadsides and newspapers.”

Library of Virginia courtesy of the library's website

I am fortunate; I live two hours north of Richmond and have been able to make several trips to the library. I found the Visitor’s Guide to be extremely helpful in planning my first visit to an unknown library. I also called ahead and received great assistance in optimizing my research agenda. 

If you cannot visit the library in person, don’t be alarmed. Much information is available online:
  • Find It Virginia is the free access to a collection of Virginia databases
  • Virginia Memory includes the library’s digital collections of newspapers, prints and photographs
  • Virginia Heritage – a guide to the library’s manuscripts and archival collections

I use the library mostly when doing newspaper research, but I have also found copies of old family wills that have been helpful in making relationship connections between ancestors, such as Sue Adams described in a recent post. If you have branches of your family tree that lived in Virginia,* I hope you will take time to discover the research resources available at the Library of Virginia. And don't forget to peek at the Chancery Court records. You'll find your Virginia ancestors were a litigious lot and the information in those records can provide a wealth of "color" about a person -- some even include descriptions of their character and not always in a good way.

I'm using #WWGenealogy when tweeting about this collaboration project on Twitter (@TweetTRnT).

* Don't forget Virginia was once a vast portion of what is now the United States;  records from that area that are now other states are sometimes found in the library.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Bachelor Uncle’s Will

Although it has over a decade since I first read this will, I remember it clearly.  It was nearly closing time at Worcestershire County Record Office, so I ordered just one more document.  I had to go back for a second reading and complete copy.  If you are not descended from one of the beneficiaries, I give you permission to go green with envy. 


The Transcript

Page 1
1.    I William Wilson the Elder of Walton in the parish of
2.    Clent in the County of Stafford Yeoman being of sensible and disposing mind and
3.    memory (thanks be to Almighty God) do make this my last Will and Testament in
4.    manner following (that is to say) I give to my Nephew Thomas Wilson and my
5.    Niece Sarah (Wife of John Price) two of the children of my late Brother Richard Wilson
6.    deceased the Sum of twenty pounds each, I also give to the eldest Son of my late
7.    deceased Nephew Richard Wilson, who was another Son of my said late Brother
8.    Richard the sum of twenty pounds, I give to my Brother John Wilson the Sum of
9.    forty pounds, and to his Daughter Mary Wife of Mr Richard Collett twenty pounds,
10.    I give to my Nephews John Matthew William Thomas and Joseph Wilson (Sons
11.    of my late Brother Matthew Wilson deceased) the Sum of twenty pounds each, And
12.    to my Nieces Sarah (Wife of       Crowder), Mary (Wife of Edward Pratt) and
13.    Nancy (Wife of          Boraston) who are the Daughters of my late Brother
14.    Matthew Wilson the Sum of twenty pounds each, I give to my Nephew Thomas
15.    Wilson, Son of my late brother Thomas Wilson deceased, one Annuity or yearly
16.    Sum of seven pounds and sixteen shillings to be paid to him at three
17.    shillings a week, on every Monday morning during his natural Life, by my
18.    Executor herein after named into his own hands for his own sole and separate use
19.    the first of which payments to become payable on the Monday first happening
20.    after the day of my decease Provided always that in case he shall happen to sell
21.    assign or alienate such weekly payments as not to be capable of receiving the
22.    same in his own right, that the payment to any such purchasor Assignee shall
23.    not be valid, but from thenceforth the said Annuity and all further weekly
24.    payments thereof shall cease for the benefit of my Executor, I also give to the
25.    eldest son of my late nephew Richard Wilson (Son of my said late Brother
26.    Thomas Wilson deceased) the Sum of twenty pounds, I give to my Niece Susanna
27.    (Wife of Richard Wight Daughter of my late Brother Thomas) the Sum of twenty
28.    pounds to be paid into her own hands to her sole and separate use
29.    independent of her Husband his debts or Engagements and for which her
30.    receipt alone to be a good discharge, I give to my Great Nephew and Niece
31.    William and Mary (Children of my late Nephew John Wilson who was another

Page 2
1.    Son of my said late Brother Thomas) the Sum of ten pounds each, I give to the three
2.    children of my late Sister Sarah the late Wife of Edward Jinks both deceased (viz)
3.    Edward Jinks (the Son) Sarah (Wife of William Barnett) and Mary (Wife of Joseph Edwards)
4.    the Sum of twenty pounds each, And I give to my Nephew Matthew Hanbury (Son of
5.    my late Sister Mary) and my Grand Niece Catherine Hanbury (Daughter of my late
6.    Nephew John Hanbury) the Sum of twenty pounds each,  All which Legacies to be
7.    payable within twelve months next after my decease, And I direct my executor
8.    with the concurrence of the Church wardens of the said parish of Clent for the time
9.    being to pay out of my personal Estate the Sum of five pounds within one month
10.    after my decease to such poor persons resident in the said Parish, whom they
11.    shall think the greatest objects of Charity and in such proportions as they shall
12.    think proper, only that the Widows shall have double to other poor persons, And
13.    subject to the payment of my just debts funeral Expenses and the several
14.    Legacies mentioned in this my Will, which I direct shall in the first place be
15.    paid out of my personal Estate, or so far as the same will extend, and subject thereto
16.    (except the said Charity Legacy) out of my real Estate and which real Estate I
17.    hereby charge with the payment thereof accordingly, I give devise and bequeath
18.    all my Messuages lands Tenements and Heredittaments and all other my real
19.    and personal Estate whatsoever and wheresover with all and every the appurtenances
20.    unto my Nephew William Wilson of Walton aforesaid who now lives with me
21.    (another of the Sons of my late Brother Richard Wilson deceased) and to his Heirs
22.    Executors Administrators and Assigns to his and their own use and behoof
23.    forever, And I do hereby appoint the said last mentioned William Wilson sole
24.    Executor of this my Will, and I hereby revoke all former Will and Wills by me
25.    made and publish and declare this to be only true last Will and Testament. 
26.    In witness whereof I have to this my Will contained in two sheets of paper, to
27.    the first sheet put my hand, and this second and last my hand and seal
28.    and published the same the Fifteenth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand and seven hundred and eighty eight

In addition to the main text three witnesses signed both pages:
William Waldron junior
Samuel Tonks
Thomas Burrell

William Wilson made his mark, and indication that he could not write, and the second page also carries his seal.

Finally, the will was proved and annotated by the consistory court:
7 Feb 1789
The sole executor of this Will
app[eare]d personally and was then
sworn in common form of Law
and that the personal Estate don’t   
amount to 1000 £ before me
John Griffon


Relationships feature heavily and most are explicitly stated.  Relationships with the Hanburys are not as explicit, so my interpretation needs confirmation from other sources.  The following chart summarises the relationships:

Relationships documented in William Wilson the elder's will, 1788
Relationships documented in William Wilson the elder's will, 1788
William Wilson the elder, and his nephew, executor, principal beneficiary and namesake, William Wilson the younger are marked in red; other beneficiaries are marked in yellow; and people who had died before the will was made are marked in grey.

I am descended from William the elder’s nephew Thomas Wilson, son of brother Matthew.  This will, combined with other documents, provides firm evidence for this claim.  Nieces of William the elder, and daughters of Matthew have featured in blog posts: Vanishing Artifacts – the Gravestone and Silver Spoon and Wills and Location – Further Evidence supporting the Inherited Family History.

The will tells us that executor William the younger already lived at Walton in May 1788.  The gravestone shared by both Williams, discussed in Keeping it in the Family?, tells me that William the elder died on 28 January 1789.  It is very likely that William the younger married his first cousin once removed, Catherine Hanbury, 5 months later.

Other people and wider family connections documented in this will await investigation.

Money and property

Note that the £10 (2), £20 (19), £40 (1) and annuity bequests are all charged on the real estate that was devised to William the younger.  What does this mean? 

The real estate consisted of the immovable property that William the elder owned: land; buildings such as the messuages or houses; things that belong to such land and buildings, known as appurtenances; land held by tenure or tenements; and the right to inherit such property or hereditaments.

So, William the elder clearly owned property, but the will does not tell us its location, extent, or the type of tenure.  The residence at Walton in Clent is candidate, but needs confirmation from property records.

The probate annotation indicates the total value of William the elder’s estate at a maximum of £1,000 for the purpose of any taxes due.  The lump sum bequests amount to £440, a large proportion of the total estate value.  The monetary bequests were charged on the property, so William the elder’s estate did not necessarily have cash readily available to make the payments.  That is why a period of a year is specified to allow the executor to make arrangements or liquidate assets as necessary.

Comparison of monetary values from the past is confounded by economic factors, but the Measuring Worth website gives a range of indications in context.  The 2013 value of the maximum quotation of £1,000 ranges between £110 thousand and £8.37 million. 

Perhaps the easiest to understand is the 3 shilling weekly payments to the probably vulnerable nephew Thomas Wilson (son of brother Thomas).  In this context, the weekly 3 shillings annuity payments equate to £208 using the labour value (based on a wage index) or £270 using the income value (based on relative average income).  That level of income would certainly have provided for the basic needs of a single person, but not an extravagant lifestyle or a family with children. 

Other beneficiaries seem to have been trusted to manage their own affairs.  The lump sums of £20 are more appropriately thought of as an investment, so compared using the economic power value based on the share of GDP might be worth as much as £167 thousand; or compared using the economic status value, a smaller but still tidy £36 thousand.

Further Interpretation

There is a lot of information in this will.  It deserves a detailed extraction of information items similar to the example I demonstrated in the 5 part series Claverley Property Document Analysis.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

I Can Testify

Wednesday, I was talking with a new genealogy researcher at the Family History Center where I work. He has never created his own data base, instead he has just gone with FamilySearch trees.  Poor baby, he got an ear full.
Never only have an online tree only, especially not a shared "world wide" tree!  To have a clear view of your family, you must have your own data base.  People are always clicking on the wrong thing.  If you don't have a data base, you might end up with someone else's Aunt Georgia.  I still find problems in my online tree that other's have added to, but I am busy sourcing so easy to pick up right now.  When picking your software for your data base, do your own research.  Try out free trial software, and choose what is right for you. Do not purchase one based on someone else's choice.  Take charge of your data base.
 When researching, whether at the library, or online, if you find information on your ancestor.  Copy it, or download it and the source right then.  Don't plan to go back.  Heads up.  The information could be gone tomorrow.  Experience...  In the past, I have copied down URL's to go back to... Not there any longer.  Pictures can be removed, if you capture a picture also capture who you got it from and give them credit if you use it, ask for permission if you are going to publish it.'s changes and then their dilemma this week, for me, was another proof, things can go poof.

Books... Now this is a sad one.  People can abscond with books, even from a genealogy library shelf. Personal experience.  Went back to get more information from a book and it was GONE.  
 I am a walking talking testimony of the above.  I want others to think in terms of "I am in charge of my data for my ancestors".  I don't mind sharing a tree, and I am more than willing to change something if you can show me the source of the information. Evidence Explained  has been a wonderful help to me for this learning curve.
He thanked me for the information... No, he didn't run out the door.
Just thought I would share with everyone. J

Monday, 16 June 2014

Why Don’t You?? Volunteer, That Is.

This blogger/researcher/RVer is currently in her home state county and city, in the stick built home.  Man and I have a long list of “real life” issues to be handled.  Sell a vehicle or two, one is sold, my hightop custom van has a new home, I cried when it drove away. Buy a new vehicle. I am more in love with my new little mini mini van each time I drive it, it may actually replace my hightop custom van in my heart, who knew that was possible?  We have Man’s mother’s home to sell, the clean up is finished, it goes on the market this week.  Our son who has been living there has been packing and shopping for a ‘new to him’ home.  We have, of course, doctors, dentists and eye doctors to make appointments with.  Hours of gardening and reclaiming the 3 acres we groom (a couple of years each with many months away have taken a toll on the landscape).  Grandchildren to love on, and of course, for this gal, research and input to do.

Sounds busy, eh?  We are all busy.  We live busy lives, each and every one of us.  There are many duties that call our names.  And, if you are still employed there is another entire layer of busy!

Have just a few minutes to spare?  Probably not many.  However, if you can find just a few, may I suggest you do something for others??  Volunteer.

It only takes a few minutes to look up a obit in your local library.  It could mean the world to someone living across the country that cannot travel to your locality to do that lookup themselves.  You get a few minutes in a peaceful quiet library, someone gets an obituary they are curious about. Just a few minutes, of your time.

Or, how about visiting the local cemeteries and doing a lookup for Find A Grave or BillionGraves. The exercise and the fresh air are a wonderful side benefit to cemetery stomping. 

Recently someone did a bit of extra research on a memorial over at Find A Grave, and then contacted me.  That reaching out broke down a brick wall in my research family.  I wrote about it, at length, on Reflections yesterday. Yes, I am still doing the happy genie dance.  

Below, the final resting place of one William A. Darden, Civil War Confederate solider who died of pneumonia.  Permission granted for use of photo by Mark B, volunteer at Find A Grave.  His volunteer efforts, my brick wall came falling down.

This was the second volunteer from Find A Grave that reached out to me in the last month, I also wrote about that break through on Reflections.  I had mentioned that I would love to get a better image of a World War I draft registration on that post.  A friend took a few minutes to access that image and sent me a beautiful image.  She said she was bored.   Knowing her, it only took a few minutes for her to locate and download and forward the file to me. What a nice thing to do for me. 

Volunteering can be wonderful for you and for the recipients.  Even just a few minutes a week can be rewarding.  Stepping back from all the demands on your life for a scenery change can be extremely beneficial to you and you can change some one else’s research.

See how just a few minutes can change some one else's research.  It will feel great, I'll even go so far as to say, I promise it will feel great.

Just a few minutes. 


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Do you use Twitter for genealogy?

What social media do you use to keep in touch with other genealogists and family historians?

You could be passing on tips, asking for or giving help, alerting your geneamates to new resources, talking about your successes (and setbacks), reporting from genealogy conferences, sharing a joke, having a grumble, just saying ‘hi’... the list is huge.

My favourite ways include blogging (no surprise there), Facebook and Google+, thought I admit I’ve been away from them for a while because my non-genealogy life has been mega-busy recently. I like Pinterest, though I don’t use it much for genealogy, and HistoryPin is a great idea. But today I’m going to think about one which has become central to my social and family history activities.
Photo by freakgirl on flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
I realised that today is my third Twitterversary. Yay! I can’t believe I’ve been tweeting for so long. It took me a while to join, because I’d got the impression that it was all about meals you’d eaten, or how much you love a band/celebrity, or trolling people you disagree with. And yes, that does go on, but not in ‘my’ Twitter. Which is one of the reasons I like it.

Twitter is so customisable. When I started out, I had a shortish list of people I followed: genealogists, bloggers, family history sites, a couple of fun ones and some friends. I was using Twitter specifically to communicate with the worldwide genealogy community, which is why I tweet as @ARebelHand instead of using my real name.

But I soon realised that if I wanted to follow any more tweeps (Twitter people), I’d need to get organised. And my goodness, there were enough great people to follow! So I sorted them into lists. One for general genealogy, one for Australia, another for Ireland, a fourth for the UK... you get the idea. And I could just look at tweets from people in that list, if I wanted to, instead of seeing everybody’s in my timeline. You can put someone in any number of lists, like you can put people in more than one circle in Google+. It’s a good way to manage all that information rushing down your timeline like a flooded river.

Then I discovered #hashtags. Of course, you don’t need to use them, and a tweet with too many hashtags can look a bit desperate for attention, but they’re a great way to get a picture of what people are saying about one particular subject. It could be general #genealogy talk, or reports on an event like #wdytyalive (Who Do You Think You Are Live in the UK) or #rootstech in the States, or Australia’s #unlockthepast cruises. Just type # plus the topic (all one word) into Twitter search, and... shazam! Lots of tweets from all over the world, from familiar names and from new ones you may end up following.

Twitter genealogy family tree © A Rebel Hand 2014 for Worldwide Genealogy
Larry the Twitter Bird's family tree? For credits see end of post
Another way to manage timeline overload and get some focus is to concentrate on one person you’re interested in. See a retweet (RT) and wonder about who the original tweeter is? Click on their username (begins with @). A new window will pop up with a profile summary, which contains a short bio and their two most recent tweets. If you want to find out more, scroll down to the bottom of the summary window and click on ‘Go to full profile’ and you’ll be able to read their tweets and retweets, and follow them if you want to.

The best thing for me about Twitter is that it works as my personalised news feed. If I’ve got some time to spare, I do love just letting my timeline wash over me, following up all the interesting-looking links and finding wonderful gems I never imagined existed. Of course this does waste pass quite a lot of time, but it’s as self-indulgent as a box of chocolates and totally non-fattening.

And if you thought genealogy was addictive (I’m willing to bet you do), here’s a warning – so is Twitter. That’s one reason why I’ve been focusing on ways to manage that seductive stream of 140-character goodies.

This isn’t even an attempt at writing a guide to Twitter, by the way. It’s just a snippet of some of the ways I use it. I’ll add some useful how-to links at the end.

The genealogy community is wonderful for passing on information, helping one another and providing support and laughs. I know some of my fellow bloggers here on Worldwide Genealogy are great at posting on Facebook and using the facilities of Google+. We’re a social bunch. So I’d love to know what social media you use for genealogy, and why. Pull up a chair and have a slice of cake!

Useful links about using Twitter: 
... and Cyndi's list of links for Twitter and genealogy 

Image credits for Twitter 'family tree':
Dark blue birds, top left: Ceridian Index, via Creative Commons
Three cartoon birds, top right: freedesignfiles, via Creative Commons, attribution 3.0
Twitter logos by Twitter

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Online Trees. Why have one? My Experience

Why do I need to put my tree online?

I am not going to answer this question but hope that by the time you get to the end of this post you will know whether or not you want to do  this and your reason for doing so.

Where can I share my family trees with others?

There are a number of sites where you can upload information about your family I may not have included all of them here but these are the one I have used and I want to discuss my experiences with using these sites.

With almost all of these sites I have uploaded a GEDCOM file, I am going to assume you know what this is, if not I suggest you do a search as this is a standard term.
The only one where I have not used this method is Family Search, but I believe there is a facility to do this. Randy Seaver has at least 2 posts on this at his blog .

The software I use on my computer uses a GEDCOM file as standard. I have a facility which allows me to create only a part of my tree and to privatize living individuals and those who have recently passed. 
If you are unable to do this, and you want to remove individuals from your file before you upload anything you may find this link useful

Help with uploading from the database on your computer can often be found on forums e.g

Alternatively genealogy user groups or blogs can have help pages or discussion of how to do this from a specific program. Try for Family Tree Maker or for Ancestral Quest.

How do I choose which site I am going to use?
To be sure that you have chosen the best site for your tree you need to ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Why am I putting my tree online?
  2. Who are my audience?
  3. How much do I want to pay to keep my information on the website?
  4. Does the website have records I want to access?
  5. Can any records on the website be added to my tree?
Most of us put up our tree in order to connect with others researching the same family. 
We may also use it as a backup to the tree on our computer.
Who do you want to see the tree or even add or edit the tree close family or just you?
If you chose a website that charges a fee can you access your records if your subscription expires?
Some websites have records that can be added to the tree to support your conclusions. 
Does  the website have records that cover the areas where you are researching?
If privacy is an issue then be sure to read the contract terms.
I would always recommend reading the terms and conditions before you upload anything.

Are all websites the same?

So you have decided you want to create an online tree and you know what you want from the website.  
What you are willing to pay? 
Do you want a free site or a free trial? 

What do the sites I have used offer and how do they differ?
 This link will take you to a brief comparison of the sites as I see it . 
(apologies if things have changed or I have misinterpreted anything) 

Recently I have used Ancestry as a back up tree, my main tree, which I have as a work in progress, so have kept it as private. 
This means that anyone who thinks we may have a connection needs to contact me via the messaging service. 
Most of the websites work along similar lines if they allow for collaboration and you will need a subscription if you want to initiate the conversation.

Genes Reunited was bought by brightsolid who own Find My Past this means the site has changed. It may not be the best option if your research does not extend to the UK but there are also sites for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

WikiTree is set up to build a single collaborative tree and actively encourages you to merge individuals to connect families. If you have a profile for an individual it cannot be merged unless you allow, by giving trusted status to the other profile manager. This video explains the merging process .
For US researchers who want to collaborate this is a good choice and you can choose your level of privacy for each individual in your tree. You can share trusted status with others researching individuals you share, but they can only edit those individuals you want them to, not your entire tree.

Whatever you choose to do remember this. 
Your living family will not know you are looking for them unless you tell them.
Go make those cousin connections you may get a nice surprise.

For further reviews please have a look at this website which also has links to other sites I may have missed.

Please leave your comments as we may all have different experiences of the same website and it may help others decide what is the best option for them.
If you are a new researcher many of the websites offer good advice as to where to start and free software to help get you started.