Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Genealogy Do-Over

Basically my research plan.
Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has come up with a challenge of sorts, which is exactly what I need: a Genealogy Do-Over. The idea is to start over with your genealogy research, and do it right this time, rather than continuing to build off of old, bad research.

Because of the way I do genealogy, my Genealogy Do-Over is going to look a little different from most people's, I think. I use WikiTree as my primary (read: only) genealogy software. So obviously I can't just wipe the slate and begin again, since my research is integrated with that of countless other people. I may, however, start using a desktop program just to track my progress in this endeavour. (Alternatively, I could just keep track in a spreadsheet of the WikiTree IDs I've covered so far.)

My reason for wanting to do this is primarily source citations. I'm confident in my facts. Like many genealogists, I went through a phase of thinking I could trust everything in an online tree. But after learning that lesson, I joined WikiTree and started my tree for scratch there, so in a way I've already done one of these do-overs. In the three years since, I'm confident that all my information has come from decent quality sources, such as vital records, censuses, tombstones, obituaries, etc. None of it was blindly taken from another tree. But, often I look at my research and I can't tell where I got a fact from. I'm sure I got it somewhere good, but where is a mystery.

Basically, I'm rushed. I find a census record, add a whole bunch of information from it, use it to add a bunch of family members, and then just throw the link to the census in the sources section of each profile. Only recently have I started really using a lot of footnotes to specify where I got each fact. And I'm still not formatting my sources in any formal way.

Additionally, I don't keep track of my research at all. I just go where the wind takes me. I know that probably means I'm being inefficient, and I've probably lost track of a lot of leads I should have followed. I have a few things on to do lists here and there, but no semblance of a research plan.

So, it's time to go over it all again! I'm sure I'll make some great improvements to my WikiTree profiles, and maybe I'll even find some hidden doors through those pesky brick walls of mine.

More posts to come, once the challenge begins!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Your Number?

I first saw it on Pinterest, and since then on numerous genealogy blogs, inculding Olive Tree Genealogy Blog. Everybody's figuring out how many of their ancestors they've identified back to their 7x great grandparents (1022 ancestors in all [not 1024 as everyone keeps saying; do the math!]). What fun!

So I decided to give it a try myself:

GenerationPotential AncestorsMy Identified Ancestors
Great Grandparents88
2x Great Grandparents1616
3x Great Grandparents3232
4x Great Grandparents6447
5x Great Grandparents12838
6x Great Grandparents25634
7x Great Grandparents51241

Grand Total: 222 out a possible 1022, or just under 22%!

Darn. I started out so strong! 100% out to my 3x great grandparents! But the numbers really started to dwindle as I got further back.

In particular, I noticed my mom's side dropped out of the calculations pretty quickly, other than my direct maternal line which I've put a lot of work into. But all those English lines, they go back to 1830 or so and then things start to get challenging! My dad's side, on the other hand, is all French Canadian, so those lines tend to go back to the 1600s pretty easily.

But I'm not discouraged! I'm still thrilled by how much my tree has grown in recent years, and am excited to see the new directions it will take in the future. (I recently learned I'm part German! Who knew?) Perhaps I'll fill in this table again a year from now and see how far I've come.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

GFR Family History Month Challenge: Day 5

Check out my Day 1 post to see this challenge from the beginning!

It's time for Day 5 of the GFR Family History Month Challenge! (You may have noticed I missed Day 4. I had a busy day, and also do not have the free time for scrapbooking!) Today's challenge is: Research a collateral ancestor. Who was your great aunt’s husband? What about that gal with the funny name who married your fifth great uncle? Go find out about someone new. Sometimes clues for your own direct line lay buried with those collateral families.

This is actually a topic I quite enjoy. Apparently it's common in the genealogy community to only research your direct ancestors. When I found this out I was thoroughly confused. I never even considered limiting my tree in that way. I do focus on people who are no more than two generations removed from my direct ancestors (by which I mean all of my ancestors' grandchildren), but there are plenty of times when I go off further than that.

Today's challenge prompted me to look through my Watchlist for a name I haven't looked at in a while, though, and I ended up looking at Samuel Cockroft and Martha Ann Shaw. The Cockrofts aren't related to me by blood, but they are blood relatives of my blood relatives. Emmeline Cockroft was my great grandfather's first wife. When she died, Herbert Jackson was left alone with two small children, and he soon remarried to my great grandmother, Janet Aspinall.

Samuel and Martha Cockroft were Emmeline's parents. A quick search on FamilySearch led me to their marriage registration index. So now, if I want, I can order their marriage record, and continue researching the Cockroft and Shaw lines.

Friday, October 3, 2014

GFR Family History Month Challenge: Day 3

Check out my Day 1 post to see this challenge from the beginning!

It's time for Day 3 of the GFR Family History Month Challenge! Today's challenge is: Visit a cemetery you haven't yet to find the headstones of some of your ancestors. Take pictures. Post them on that collaborative site you joined!

After a day filled with work and homework, I'm writing this when it's already pitch black outside and past my bedtime. :) But tomorrow, I'll stop by the Cimetière de Cathédrale de Saint-Boniface, a nearby cemetery that I'm in the process of photographing for the Manitoba Cemeteries Project. As far as I know, I don't have relatives buried there. Or at least, not close ones, but most of the people buried there are French Canadian, and we're totally all related!

Cimetière de Cathédrale de Saint-Boniface also happens to be the final resting place of Manitoba folk hero Louis Riel, who led the Métis in two rebellions against the Canadian government and was executed for treason, yet is widely considered the "Father of Manitoba". He's also, as I recently discovered, my eighth cousin, twice removed!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

GFR Family History Month Challenge: Day 2

Check out my Day 1 post to see this challenge from the beginning!

It's time for Day 2 of the GFR Family History Month Challenge! Today's challenge is: Start a One Name Study for one of your unique family names or one of your favorites.

As it happens, I've already done this one, too! I always imagined I'd one day start a One Name Study on the Daigneaults, which would be fairly manageable, but so far I haven't gotten around to it. What I did was start a Jackson study, limited to the Huddersfield and the surrounding area in West Yorkshire.

I started my study because my Jackson line goes back to John Jackson, son of William Jackson, of Huddersfield. The reason it doesn't go back any further is because that area just happens to have Johns and Williams Jackson coming out of its ears. So I started this study to research all of them and tease out the various family groups. It is not easy.

So, since I've already done today's challenge of starting a One Name Study, I'll participate today by doing a bit of work on those John Jackson families.

Do you have a One Name Study? WikiTree has a One Name Studies Project! It's great for working with other people who are also facing the specific challenges of One Names Studies.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

GFR Family History Month Challenge: Day 1

For Family History Month (which is October, and I always forget about it), the Global Family Reunion blog is hosting a daily challenge with ways of celebrating your family history.

Day 1's challenge is: Join a collaborative genealogy site to start sharing your research with others.

This one is too easy for me! :) But if you haven't yet joined a collaborative genealogy site, you should! It's a great way to connect with cousins, collaborate on brick walls, and help others connect to their roots, just to name a few benefits!

This is my blog, so I'm allowed to be totally biased and say you should really join WikiTree.com. It's free, has a great Q&A forum called G2G, and has projects for people who share genealogical interests.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Global Cemeteries Project's First Cemetery Challenge!

If you've seen me around WikiTree, you may have noticed my very high level of enthusiasm and excitement when it comes to the Global Cemeteries Project, which a few of us started up in June (though the Australian WikiTreers had had their own regional version for some time). I'm so happy to finally have a place to upload tombstone photos that also 1) doesn't take ownership of the photos away from me, and 2) allows me to link up those tombstone photos to other information about the people buried there, and ultimately to the global family tree.

Well, this excitement, when combined with my naturally competitive nature, could only lead to one thing: a challenge! Thus was the September 2014 Tombstone Photo Challenge born. The challenge is to photograph as many tombstones as possible during the month of September.

My inspiration for this particular challenge came from my location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, often nicknamed Winterpeg. A city in which the cemeteries spend half the year buried under a substantial quantity of snow. So I wanted to make sure I took lots and lots of pictures before that happened, so that I'd have plenty to do transcribing them and creating WikiTree profiles for them over the winter.

So if you haven't joined the Global Cemeteries Project yet, now's the time! Join in the challenge and see if you can lurk around more cemeteries than anyone else! ;) Compete for bragging rights and a sweet profile badge, all the while helping to improve WikiTree's coverage of the world's cemeteries. And as I can already say from experience, before too long you'll be getting messages thanking you for posting a picture of someone's ancestor's tombstone. And that's a pretty great feeling.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why WikiTree's Cemeteries Project is a Good Use of Time

My usual disclaimer: I work for WikiTree.com, but this is my personal genealogy blog. I am not paid to blog here and my opinions do not necessarily reflect "official WikiTree opinions" or anything like that. This is just Lianne talking.

So, some WikiTreers (including myself) recently started up the Global Cemeteries Project, which grew out of WikiTree team member Paul Bech's Cemeteries of Australia Project. I am BEYOND EXCITED about this project, and will later write a blog post all about how much I love it. But for now, I wanted to write about the reaction to it.

A lot of people share my excitement. Enough people that I think this project is going to grow and become something wonderful. But what I find interesting is that the negative (or maybe not negative but simply uncertain) reactions all seem to be taking the exact same form:

Aren't you just reinventing the wheel? Find a Grave already does this.

First, let me just say that if you said something like this, don't worry: I'm not angrily replying to your comment. I'm writing this because a whole bunch of people said the exact same thing and I find it interesting. Because I disagree with it in literally every way. Let's break it down.

1) Having info in only one place is bad.

We all know this. That's why geneabloggers are always writing about having backups. Not to mention, aside from crashing, sites can shut down. While I like Find a Grave and hope it sticks around, let's face it: it's owned by Ancestry, and it's free. That has not historically been a great combination.

But my point here is that just because there's one site that has cemeteries and tombstones on it doesn't mean there shouldn't be another one. Which brings me to...

2) There's already more than one.

I don't understand the implication that Find a Grave has some kind of monopoly and we'd be crazy to "compete" with it. Isn't BillionGraves kind of huge? Not to mention country-specific ones, like Canada GenWeb's Cemetery Project, which is my personal favourite site for looking up cemeteries in Canada, as it's by far the most complete in my experience. So, obviously, this town is more than big enough for the two of us.

3) Find a Grave is not "international".

People always argue with me on this one, because technically Find a Grave is international. But it isn't really. For example, let's say I want to browse for a cemetery in a certain location. I have no clue what it's name is. From the cemetery search page there are options to "browse by US county" or "browse by non-US country". (There's your first big hint, by the way.) So I click the second link, and select Canada from the dropdown list. Surprise, surprise, there are too many cemeteries in Canada to list on one page so the query simply fails.

Simply put, any site that lets you drill down to the county in the US, but only the country elsewhere is not international. At all.

4) The Cemeteries Project directly contributes to WikiTree's mission.

This is the most important reason. We want to eventually have a profile for everyone, right? Presumably including everyone who has a tombstone in any cemetery. And a good, complete profile would ideally have a picture of that person's tombstone on it. So, really, the Cemeteries project is just doing what we normally do on WikiTree, but from a slightly different angle: starting with the source and creating profiles from it, instead of the other way around. Which, since it only creates profiles with at least one good quality source (the tombstone), is really a pretty good way of going about contributing to the tree.

So, I hope you'll consider checking out WikiTree's Global Cemeteries Project! Now, I'm off to go transcribe some more tombstone photos.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My connection to A.J. Jacobs in the global family tree!

Background Info

In case you haven't heard, A.J. Jacobs (author of The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and Drop Dead Healthy) has a new project: connecting himself to as many people as possible in the global family tree! So right now, tonnes of people are working on A.J.'s tree, trying to connect it to their own. All of this is leading up to the Global Family Reunion that will be held in New York on June 6, 2015.

I'm a huge fan of A.J. Jacobs, so I was super excited when I heard about this project! And even more excited when I met A.J. at RootsTech in February!

Yeah, that happened!

WikiTree's Global Family Reunion Project

This whole idea just happens to perfectly match WikiTree's goal of building one worldwide family tree, so it was only natural for us to start a Global Family Reunion Project there. That's been going extremely well, with all sorts of connections being made. You can get updates on our progress in the Google+ Community.

Finding My Connection

I'd been contributing to the tree where I could, and keeping an eye out for any French-souding names in hopes of finding a French Canadian connection. I got my hopes up when I came across a Toussaint family, but that led me back to an immigrant from the Netherlands.

Finally, a connection was found to a French Canadian family. As I expected would happen as soon as a French Canadian popped up, I very quickly connected that tree to mine! Erin had found the path from A.J. to Josiah Rising Raizenne. Josiah's great great grandson's wife is my 5th cousin, 4 times removed!

So, here's the path from me to A.J. Jacobs:

Lianne Lavoie (me) -> my father, Louis Gilbert Lavoie -> his mother, Clemence Wilhelmina Marguerite Richard -> her mother, Marie Alberta "Bertha" Daigneault -> her father, Narcisse Daigneault -> his father, Anselme Daigneault -> his father, Louis Daigneault -> his father, Pierre Deneau -> his father, Jacques Deniau -> his father, Pierre Deniau -> his brother, René Deniau -> his son, Jean-Baptiste Deniau -> his son, Joseph Deniau -> his daughter, Josephe Deniau -> her daughter, Marie Josephe "Angelique" Bissonnette -> her daughter, Angele Andre dit St. Amant -> her husband, Guillaume Seguin -> his father, Guillaume Seguin -> his father, Guillaume Seguin -> his mother, Marie Anne Raizenne -> her father, Josiah Rising Raizenne -> his father, John Rising -> his wife, Mary Claflin Rising -> her brother, Daniel Claflin -> his son, Robert Claflin -> his son, Daniel Claflin-> his daughter Phoebe Claflin Sprague -> her son, Almon Sprague -> his wife, Lucy Bentley Sprague -> her brother, Orlando Bentley -> his wife, Caroline Sears Bentley -> her sister, Elizaette Sears Austin -> her son, Duane S. Austin -> his son, Lloyd Austin -> his daughter, Gertrude Austin English -> her husband, James A. English -> his father, John Royal English -> his mother, Alice Parker Finnell -> her husband Ashford Bartlett Finnell -> his sister, Nora Finnell Ayers -> her husband, Frank C. Ayers -> his father, George Ayers -> his wife, Nancy Morrison Ayers -> her daughter, Nellie Crowley Kuntz -> her husband, Edward Kuntz -> his sister, Emma Kuntz Ferrell -> her daughter, Georgia Ferrell Hirsch Takacs -> her husband, Irwin Hirsch -> his mother, Harriet Friedenheit Hirsch -> her sister, Sophie Friedenheit Kingsbacher (AJ's 2nd great grandmother).

Or, to write that the (slightly) shorter way, I'm A.J.'s 1st cousins 3x removed's wife's uncle's wife's mother's husband's son's wife's brother's wife's grandson's wife's great great aunt's husband's sister's husband's great great great aunt's husband's great great great grandson's wife's 5th cousin 4x removed.

So, basically, we're practically cousins!

As for accuracy, the link from me back through my Deniau ancestors is all from my personal research, which I'm quite confident in. I think most of the path from Josiah Raizenne to A.J. Jacobs was done by members of the Global Family Reunion Project, and from what I've seen that means it's probably pretty solid. The remaining French Canadian bit of the path was already on WikiTree, and not well-sourced, but it does seem to match what's on Nos Origines, which seems to always be right.

So, I'm fairly confident in this path being accurate. But just to be safe, my next task as part of this project will be to go along this line adding all the sources I can, and branching out from it as well to help others connect to the global tree more easily.

I'm thrilled that my connection wound up being through my Daigneault line! The more recent part of that line, once they're in Manitoba, is a personal favourite of mine. I've often thought if I ever did a one name study it would probably be on the Daigneaults.

If you're interested in finding your connection to A.J. Jacobs, and you aren't already on WikiTree.com, I highly recommend signing up! It's free, and with so many connections being made to his tree there you're bound to find yours!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Why I Love WikiTree

Here's why I love WikiTree! To see why other people love WikiTree (and to share why you do), check out the I Love WikiTree Photo Festival!

Honestly, it was hard to come up with an idea for this picture because there are so many reasons why I love WikiTree, and most of them would be hard to fit on a piece of paper. (They're more inclined to take the form of impassioned speeches.) But I think this captures at least one of those reasons: on WikiTree, you're not doing genealogy alone. People all over the world whose research overlaps are working together to break through their brick walls, and learn about their ancestor's lives. And there are WikiTreers with so many different areas of expertise that you're almost certain to find someone who can help you with a research problem.