Getting into the Faith

Honestly I am not very religious at all but I started to want to thank more than the Lord when I discovered that the following things are rooted in faith:

  • Baptisms
  • Marriages
  • Sacraments (including last rights)
  • Burials and cemetery hard copies

It seems odd to the faithless but our families of the past were so rooted we forget places we can look other than paper copies of government registrations.

Family Bibles in several sect including Catholic, Lutheran, Mormon and Anglican keep records in the bibles they pass down like the one below:


Dunagan Family Bible Records

Parishes from all over the world can look in their records. When my grandfather took a course in the 1980s it went so far as to provide templates in foreign languages to formally request in trade for a donation.

In cases in the olden times- the church and state didn’t communicate and the only one keeping records was the church- especially during transitional government areas. The French German boarder where I enjoy the hunting actually only has records from the parish. This link is  is for that area. I have been hunting the old areas.

Translation and that conversation will be coming soon. But once you see the jigsaw puzzle pieces shapes the family puzzle can become very clear.


Reisdseltz 001.jpg

Side entry: Anna Margaretha Sengerin, age 36

In the year above [apparently, 1766, to gauge by the next entry] on Feb. 16 there piously died, fortified with all the sacraments of the church and with general absolution, Anna Margaretha, wife of Johannes Senger, local citizen and tailor, at the age of thirty six. The next day, she was buried in the local cemetery. In attestation of this, the following signed: [signatures] Johannes Senger, Jörg Cohn, J.C. Dietz parish priest [with some ecclesiastical abbrevations I don’t know]

The Lord knows thy name.. Government records may be signed with an X but the priest used the whole name especially since the family may reuse names or better use only colloquial to differentiate family members.

In several cases I have also found the Parish records more effective than the local records since the government ported the bodies or re-used the graves.

Who bought the internment plot- are they related? Perhaps they are executor

Who signed off on the death? – See the family or a professional from the area who can attest the body

Faith is perspective too. I have read journal entries where faith isolates families and prevents unions. Faith can show what the options are if you want to change towns.- Not going there as they are ____. Follow the faith trail- like minded tend to stay together even now.


Get Digital

So you are ready to start diving into genealogy, you’ve talked to the immediate family (or rather the ones you like) and you’ve read this boring blog. The next steps are choosing how to record the data to share, see what others have already done and to begin your journey.

For the next few blogs I will be posting I will be doing personal reviews of genealogy software. It is a personal choice so please let this be a conversation and let me know what you think. There are tons out there and to be honest I am a cheap bastard so I will be aiming for free software with minimal cost. I will not be reviewing DNA-based since there are many and the cost can be lucrative.

For background information- I am very comfortable with computers and I work in the tech field. I come from a technical family so I try to stay up with the times. I am doing these reviews with my American Historial Society for Germans from Russia in mind- they have an age range of 45-95 (not technical).

Things to know about digital software for genealogy:

  • GEDCOMS: Wiki defines GEDCOM as

A GEDCOM file is plain text (usually either ANSEL or ASCII) containing genealogical information about individuals, and meta data linking these records together. Most genealogy software supports importing from and exporting to GEDCOM format.

Gedcoms are the universal file type for almost all genealogy websites, sharing and genealogy forums. Similar to DOC files for document sharing.

  • PDF or  is the secondary format type that persons sharing will provide so you can manually entry the data you need rather than accept all persons in the tree purely due to content size or desire. There are amazing genealogists that have close to 100 000  persons in their tree and deep down if you wanted one line a GEDCOM is not wanted.

    PDF is also an abbreviation for the Netware Printer Definition File. PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to someone else.

Features I look for are:

  •  Ease of use for installation
  • Ease of use for simple additions
  • Ease of use citations and sourcing
  • Integration into social sharing
  • cost
  • GEDCOM import export
  • duplication reduction
  • report building

To be standard and fair… I am testing on the same computer running Windows 10 N  with Chrome and Spartan or an Android Samsung S7.

Remember there are already comparative charts:

The real art is finding what data you need and what features you need and how much assistance you need…


I am currently using Legacy software with several add ons:

Family Sync to get it on my phone

GenSmarts to help me find source citations



Census Extraction

100 years ago… someone lived with family X in the city county state/province and country.

That is not all the data they captured. Long form census tells a lot of data…

This is one from 1920 when data capture was amazing and relatively more legible.

Look at the headers…

The address at that specific date, names, birth, a birthplace of a person , birth places of parents, occupation, education level.
You get a glimpse in plain English into the lives at the time… it is fantastic but there are less lucky ones too.

There are many where English is a backup plan but the one I wanted to share but I derped and saved it as a PDF instead of an image. Time to find dots to connect for more sources. Start with the same location 10 years apart… to find trends and patterns. 1-year-old grows to 11. Did the family move area or pass away?

Notes to expand on from these censuses:

  • Build the family units, check ages of persons listed… the brother or parents of the head of the household may be listed
  • Employment trends in the generations 2 or 3 generations of basket makers or brick layers
  • Where did they move from? from France or England.. chase movements
  • From the smaller gaps between each census (less than 10 years) who is still there? what happened if the toddler or babies drop off? who died or moved with others
  • Education trends eg. they stop at read and write or the teen moved to get more education
  • Naming trends
  • Religion can lead to more sources like baptisms or burial location
  • Building a person’s life using sources is amazing.

What is in a name? Fun looks

“I keep having people names the same. what’s up with that?”

“What’s with these names?”

Funner reasons to answer that question:

  • They ran out of names
  • It was traditional to name the first born son after the first born
  • His father’s first name is her sons middle name
  • We wanted some thing unique, it sounded like it should be from our home country
  • No no that’s right.
  • That is what has always been… why change it.
  • If we went with tradition or followed with what your uncle said is right- it wouldn’t be appropriate – example Harry Dyck so we went with the other uncle’s name
  • It costs money to register the names. That is the real reason you all have the same first name
  • It was a translation issue. That is what the name became at the border and we don’t know enough of the language to be unique.
  • Does it matter what I named you? I picked it so you can pay to change it.
  • “I pretty sure they did it for legal reasons”*sighs* I am not sure which side of the legal we are concerned with.
  • They didn’t know how to write so just put the X.
  • So we wouldn’t have to change the name of the business the child would inherit.
  • The spiritual leaders chose the name. ~*sighs* way to set the bar high tribal elders….

What are some of the fun reasons you’ve seen?

FOIP & ID Theft

​Due to FOIP (Freedom of Information Privacy) and the statute of limitations generally the dead(or aged living) must be dead (or aged event) of certain given time before documentation is easily accessible. Contacting your local county or provincial registry for specifics. 

Contact the Provincial Archives Of Alberta for copies of

  • birth records that are 120 years old or older (from the date of birth)
  • marriage records that are 75 years or older (from the date of marriage)
  • death records that are 50 years old or older (from the date of death)
  • stillbirth records that are 75 years or older (from the date of stillbirth)

When creating a family tree ,persons not dead yet are traditionally kept private due to ID fraud potential . All it takes is birth date name and piece of ID to mangle someone’s life. Score for freedom of information and privacy acts-protecting you and your immediate family.

The idea of life’s details being shared is not for everyone-even when dead. This needs to be honoured.

Death Happens… 

The part of genealogy that makes the researcher cold is straddling the line between considering a family member’s death as just a number/statistic or a memory that was a part of very interesting part of their life story.

While 6 months pregnant with my first child I scanned this into the shared drive and was shattered. To look at the idea of losing 4 children under the age of 3 to anything breaks my heart… and then to add to that people are actually still debating vaccine use.

You need to remember the dead were people, had lives,  loved and been loved.  The best way to honor their death is to remember them.

Today is Remembrance Day (November 11)is here in Canada. We honor the fallen of our armed forces to thank them for their absolute sacrifice. The thought for many is a day off for 5 minutes of unified silence -the part many forget is the lives.

The lives we forgot…

My grandparents were born in 1921, 1923 and 1930. The stories I was lucky enough to read and hear. This is a modified version.

The newspapers are taking about the draft. It is that he will get to go to serve to save our country. All able bodied men. And all dad has been talking about is not having food from the farm to help the boys that are not yet men. We’ve been knitting in class many things for the men already at the front.

~could you imagine your brother, cousin, neighbor whose over 16 excited to go save the neighborhood…

He sends letter from the bay of something. The Christmas letter came in February. We sent him pictures and some personal items like the picture of his fiance who is pregnant and due when he should come home. Mom is furious that she is due before he could come home but happy he found love.

And doesn’t come home.

A moment of silence doesn’t fix the stupid that is war. It doesn’t heal the broken hearts that can not heal. Silence does not restore the lives shattered by choices made by foreign leaders and choices thousands of miles away. 100 years later, silence and prevention is a good start.

When reading that my tree has lost over 10 young people. Under 30 years old-I am not even there yet and dying from someone else’s fight leaving my child without me is just- just that. The idea that the body doesn’t come back for closure -the family will never heal.

Here is perspective for today:

Everyone has lost someone to cancer or has been impacted by cancer now. Replace the word cancer with the “great war”. After all, that loss- mankind does it again not even 20 years later with more cancer deaths- senseless deaths.

The winner writes the history books for all to read. When we voted him in. He was going to make Germany great again!

The Super Power- Citation

Deep down that word is reserved for proving someone wrong in the English lit world, but for our purposes in genealogy it actually allows you to have super powers. Hearsay or 2nd hand accounts need proof and power. Without where you found your data,  it stands unreliable. In some places and cases sans source is not accepted or leads to following “cyclic redundancy errors” or “circle jerks”.

I have had the desire to cry when a person took my tree and placed a great-grandfather as the son of that great-grandfather because the name of the weird daughter was identical less birth dates.

I am currently in the large project of sorting sources per person of 6475 people and I am hunting proofs for all of these specific persons. Massive corrections and massive work.

Remember when your living classification changes, your citations are someone else’s sources and it may be all they have to make their tree accurate.


Citation & Source Notes:


What data:  Define what you expect to see because people can error in the search of that document-employment on some census data capture is the item we are looking for not the improper spelling of the room mate’s name)

Where was it captured: Websites change constantly, opinions vary and stories can change)

How was it captured: Verbal on recording, transcription errors occur, sadly not recorded but over should entry from (was-)living

When was the data captured: Websites change and so do sources- like books.

Reliability and environmental condition: reliability can vary from mental health of source, the translations/ transcriptions can be super hard to convert to and from. Environmental conditions may include the fact the paper is scorched or the audio recording is fading, the persons in the room during recording can impact the source, the mental health could be noted here too.

Site of Original Source: Census and birth certificates can be actually scanned from source but the more hands it touches prior to making it to your collection the more error layers can be added. Google drive has first- hand picture of his baptismal certificate- bad angle.

[Provider of Translations/Transcription]: Translation is an art and science. Some artists are just that -Artists.

Notes:  (having fun with notes)

  • Original scan of a document found in an envelope in [users] notes. The hard copy was destroyed upon digitization due to condition – coffee rings.
  • The hard copy was accidentally burned during [user] house fire.
  • The soft copy was lost due to a computer virus, and the hard copy was recycled. This source was verbally confirmed by said person.
  • This source is from a book with more grammatical and spelling errors than acceptable.
  • The hard copy has a layer of artistic color. [toddler art]
  • Auntie was near Abuela [Source person] during the capture and would not discuss conditions of Abuleos death. Auntie doesn’t know he is dead.
  • Teo was drunk. Source not credible- but it is all I have.
  • Robyn is unisex- I assume that she is a girl cause I am Robyn and a girl. Gender not provided.
  • Cemetary was moved twice. Body location undefined.
  • Death cause provided but no date… it has been 250 years I assume the person is dead. No images to conclude vampire or zombie effects.
  • Mass grave indicated. No specifics.’s:

Citation - What are the specifics of the information or evidence provided by this source?
Detail (required) Enter the title, or the film number, volume, etc.

DateEnter the publication date of the document or material.

Transcription of text
 Transcribe or cut-and-paste exact wording from the source.

Other information
 Enter any other pertinent information related to this citation.

Web Address If the source was found on the Internet, enter the URL here.


Before my super power:

Where is the file:

File name:


A great example source citation  of an easy one:

What data: Name, Birth, death, funeral, burial location. Funeral Card


Where was it captured:  Original from Event when descendant attended in 1975. Scanned digitally by Robyn Morales August ‎18, ‎2012, ‏‎11:14:46 PM

How was it captured:  Hard copy by attendance. Soft copy by computer scanner

When was the data captured:  August ‎18, ‎2012, ‏‎11:14:46 PM

Reliability and environmental condition: 4.5/5 original is in good condition if re-scan is needed.

Site of Original Source:  soft:C:\Users\robyn\Google Drive\Genealogy\Person\Wendelin Senger [L89N-5FV] and hard: FJ Senger document collection


Citing sources you can find again makes it shareable… both ways more “provable”data to share.

Getting Relationships

Blood is blood. We are not all blood. Even if your sorta-uncle is there more than your real one. Genealogy is really pro blood connections. Adoptions are harder to adopt but can be done.

Here is a video and quick chart to help you define your connections.


When you get to larger trees you start to realize areas were small and so were populations so we may all be cousins  especially once you’re in a SIG (Special Interest Group).

Talking to Paper (in this generation)

So BS or health inhibitors can be valid reasons why you don’t trust living sources… There is always “Talking to paper” is my way of saying use vital statistics from the externally sourced documentation.

Great ideas for living data verification include:

  • Divorce decrees (local archives have up to date ones as soon as they clear)
  • Birth certificates (your own long versions)
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Adoption papers
  • Legal land titles (local registry-FOIP/location pending)
  • Phone book
  • Dare I say social media… LinkedIn, Facebook etc.
  • Your local religious leader your family members affiliated with
  • Other people at arm’s length
  • Clubs or organizations that knew said person
  • Business ownership notices or history
  • Obits of other family members
  • Open/closed court documents (family settlements or child payment arrangements where you are the benefiting party or custodial agreement)
  • On line sources like Facebook, and Linkedin etc.

Aiming for multiple data verification records per person validates accuracy and future problem prevention.

Religious leaders may know the last 2 generations even if you don’t.

Ever look at the history of a local family run business? It tells father and sons name or more.

When creating a family tree ,persons not dead yet are traditionally kept private due to ID fraud potential and because you may not have permission to share the data of the living for up to 50 years after there death pending on the country. Score for freedom of information and privacy acts-protecting you and your immediate family.

Start with the living

When starting into the creation of your tree I would personally start with the people around you. Immediate family members one generation up if available may be easy to talk to.

If you’d rather discuss with paper (which I understand – it may not be an option)  skip this posting.

Great segways into the conversation may be:

  • Hello, So I was wondering if you’d mind confirming some things I remember when I was little?
  • Oh hey, I thought I would update the birthday list for uncle smelly pants, can I get your kid’s birthday?
  • Mama could you tell me where you got my name from? It seems odd that Robyn is spelt this way.
  • Do you still have grandpa’s recipe card for ___? Where did he get that… My drool woke me up dreaming about it.
  • I know this is awkward but can we talk health issues gramma? When did great aunt pretty lady pass away? I wanna know if I am at risk. Did you have it?
  •  Hey sis did you notice mom the other day,do you think that is genetic? That mouth twitch thing- didn’t grandma do that too?

Asking questions about health opens a two prong convo about concerns for health and vitals capture for family. Health concerns can help idea potential death reason tracking (and location hints), potential things to watch out for in the future and unfortunately can also relate reliability levels. Mental health conditions like Alzheimer’s or mental depreciation can reduce reliability in some cases. Also it can point you toward data capture control… Example grandad doesn’t remember or is touchy about great gram maybe I can ask mom. Or another is grandma is not all there I may want to capture audio and try again on the same story another day or try her brother she mentioned.

Food almost always brings people together. It is safe even when relationships are strained. Especially if it is for someone cuter  like a grandchild or nephew. Asking for a recipe tweak can start the dough rolling literally.

It can be as simple as asking for a back story to a vital statistic of yours to find out that things are inherited. Example- a friend of mine has the middle name is the first name from his father, all names start with one constant letter and that tradition is many generations old… Roland Raymond Real-not-nom has Roger Roland Real-not-nom  who has Ricard Roger Real-not-nom… Another common one is many are using there middle name as preference since the first name is a constantly passed down. 6 generations of Johann in family tree….

When capturing data from the family use video, sound or written documentation. Emotions on topics can change and so can the storyline that comes from a dynamic memory. Also one family member may ask and get a lesser version than another. An dynamics is closeness of children vs grand child who had the better first hand account. Or the memory changes with age about when marriage dissolved or even deaths from 10+ years ago.
When sourcing verbal information it is good to capture:

Names of parties involved:

Date and time of capture:

Location of capture:

Environmental conditions:
Format of Capture:

Images or audio or video file name associated to data capture:

Reliability of source:

Additional notes:
There are many reasons to gather that kind of data but remember you’re not just capturing for you at some point. You may be sharing data or preserving it for future generations.