Monday, November 28, 2011

YEAH - It's finally HERE!’s family tree browser for Android devices is here. It’s in BETA – which means it’s not fully ready for public use but it does what I want. Now I can connect to my family tree on from my Android based smart phone and Samsung tablet. It downloads whatever tree you want and with just a swipe you can view prior generations. Tap on a person and that person’s data comes up. PERFECT

I bought a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet right after it came out and it’s still my favorite device for web browsing. I bought a stand for it, also. Now with this new application I can view my tree by my computer while I’m doing my online research. I know that is not what everyone would do but it’s perfect for me. I don’t have much room near my desk and switching back and forth between multiple websites and my PC based Family Tree software is just not elegant. Now, with just a glance, I can verify the data I have entered in my Family Tree on

Did I mention – IT’S FREE!

So – if you have a tree on and an Android smart phone or tablet – check it out at the Android Marketplace.

iPad/iPhone users have had this app for a while already.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Those Who Served

I mentioned the website in a previous post but this is not the only good place to find military records. If you know what branch of the service or what company your ancestor served with, there are many dedicated websites for service information.

One of my ancestors served for the Union in the Civil War with a Pennsylvania company. I found his pension index record on and also on other websites but this index card does not tell me much.

Further searching using Google led me to the following website, though.

This website was specifically about his unit. This website includes many obituaries, service notes, soldier cards, battle lists, etc.

I’ve found similar websites for this regiment and another one is: 
This website includes links to articles and photos.  

Don’t just think it’s the Civil War that has websites for companies and regiments. My father served in WWII and there are websites for his Air Corps division, also. The best one includes pictures and transcribed strike journals! (I have my Dad’s strike journal and pictures but if I did not, this site would have been priceless)

The point is – we get tied up with looking for our ancestors information on generalized websites and don’t think about the possibility that the information might be on a special, dedicated, FREE website.

I’m sure there are sites for your ancestors who served, also.

Happy Hunting!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Turn off the computer and go outside!

I live in beautiful South Carolina and this past weekend was just gorgeous outside. So … I turned off the computer and visited some heritage events for a taste of past generations. We spend so much time researching to find little tidbits of information about our ancestors and their lives that it is easy to forget about the circumstances they lived in. Their time in history shaped their lives, choices, and families.

Our first event was a sugar cane juicing and boiling celebration in Coward, SC. The Russ Brothers farm was opened to the public and on this crisp Saturday morning the smell of fresh sugar cane being boiled down in 100 gallon vats was intoxicating. They used a piece of equipment from 1905 to press the juice from the cane. It was a real treat to step back over 100 years to this early process for industrialized sugar production. We then were able to sample this syrup on free pancakes, biscuits, and sausage while marveling at how lucky we were to be a part of this local tradition. The day was so enjoyable we decided to venture on to a local living history farm for a full fall farm experience.

Many of my relatives lived on farms through the 18th, 19th, and into the early 20th centuries. I hadn’t been on a farm in years and it was nice to spend the rest of the day there without having to actually do all the work! It was easy to see the need for large families. The L.W.Paul Living History Farm has a sawmill, blacksmith, gristmill, smokehouse, tobacco barn, sugar cane pot (60 gallons), and other barns and out buildings. There is even a small chapel. Last Saturday was particularly active with sugaring, smoking, tool making, plowing, cotton picking, yarn dying, sawing, smoking, and various “putting up” activities. This work would have been vital activities to our ancestors. It was especially interesting listening to one grandmother explain each of these processes to her grandchildren.

I could not help but chuckle as the boys stood wide-eyed when she told them how they used corn cobs for toilet paper. They thought she was kidding until another older gentleman corroborated the story and said he still grabs corn cobs when he goes out hunting – just in case. When I called my mother later in the day she chuckled, too, and then said – Yes, of course, that’s what she used, too, as a child.

So – take some time to visit living history centers and heritage events and absorb some of the daily events your ancestors participated in as part of their daily life.

Happy Hunting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why you need a G-mail account for genealogy

Why you need a G-mail account for genealogy.

It’s a free, secure, stable, powerful piece of programming. If you have an Android smartphone or tablet, you will always have your contacts and e-mails. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, you will have secure access to your e-mail and contacts anywhere there is a hot-spot. These reasons work for anyone not just genealogists. So why do genealogists need a G-mail account as opposed to other web-based e-mail accounts?

The answer is iGoogle. iGoogle is another free Google product that lets you create your own custom home page for when you open your browser. This page, combined with the Google toolbar means that your favorite genealogy websites and bookmarks are always with you on the Internet. This process takes three steps. First obtain a free GMail account from You don’t have to use this new e-mail account for e-mail at all! You could decide to use it just for genealogy, though, so that when you post to a message board or forum, your e-mail account doesn’t change, even if you move or change Internet service providers (ISP) in the future. It’s really frustrating when I see a post from someone in my family research and their e-mail address is no longer valid when I try to contact them with information they have requested. With a Gmail account, you have a stable address for these posts.

Next, (or first if you already have a Gmail account) go to The “ig” on the end signifies that you want the personalized iGoogle home page. You may have to sign-in to customize and save this page as your own. If you don’t sign-in you can still create a page with gadgets of your choosing, but the personal page won’t be saved. 

Once you’ve designed your page and added the gadgets for your research, you’ll need to set this page as your home page in your browser. Each browser is a little different but the options for re-setting your home page are usually under the tools menu. You can have more than one “home page” on the Internet if you are using a “tabbed” browser. This means that you do not have to give up your current home page just add this one to the list.

Now when you open your Internet browser the iGoogle home page you designed is the first page you see! I have gadgets for weather, g-mail, various genealogy web-sites and blogs, etc. I’ve included some of those gadget choices here. Don’t forget to search for other words like “ancestry” and “family history.”

There is plenty of help for iGoogle on the iGoogle help screens so I won’t go into detail here on how to set-up your pages. The G-mail account and iGoogle make your Internet experience much more personal. Don't forget to test these gadgets. I've found that some gadgets are not as useful as I first though.

Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy All Saint’s Day!
Hooker Falls and morning mist,  near Brevard, NC
After spending much of last week photographing waterfalls in North Carolina, it’s time to get back to genealogy. I’ve included one of the photos I took, though, so you will know my time was well spent.
Did anyone out there purchase Family Tree Maker (FTM) 2012 with the bonus pack? I did and feel a bit ripped off. I’ve had FTM for many years and through those years have received bonus disks either as additional purchases or gifts. Well, I spent an additional $30 for the latest bonus disk and it’s nothing but a re-run of prior offerings. So don’t waste your money if you have bonus disks from prior years – check their contents, first. The prior disks were titled “Reference Library Deluxe” and “Resource Essentials.” The “new” bonus disk has the following texts and Photo Explosion Album software.
Note : If I make this insert smaller you could not read it at all

If you don’t already have these texts be aware that many of these texts are OLD. The Abbreviations book is from 2003 – probably not an issue. The Dictionary is from 1989 – also not an issue. Hidden Sources is from 2000. Printed Sources is from 1998. The Ancestry Guide is from 2007/2008 and the RootsWeb guide is from 2007. In all fairness, though, these seem to be the latest versions of the printed texts. Just don’t expect anything new from these .pdf files.

Just wanted you to be aware of what the extra money might actually cost you.

Happy Hunting!