Sunday, July 20, 2014

So many AncestryDNA matches.

I had my DNA test done through Ancestry and managed to get my half-sister to also get her DNA test done. So now I have 277 pages of matches and she has 168 pages of matches. With 50 hits per page, that is a lot of matches.

So how do I go about comparing my matches with my sister’s matches? Reason I want to compare is the fact that we only share one parent, our Mother, this means these are her ancestors. Plus my mother was adopted by her step-father and we have no idea of who her biological father is and I was hoping to see some sort of common denominator.  

Anyway, the problem to compare our matches, since Ancestry doesn’t have a way to “Export” the list of matches; I had to manually key in the names of the matches into an Excel Spreadsheet. Next problem, how many names will I really going to compare? 168 pages is a lot of names. So I decided I would go until my matches switched to a confidence level of low. This meant 13 pages of names.  Therefore, I did the first 13 pages of matches for my sister too, even though her confidence level of low started around page 10. I wanted our list to be the same length.

Next, I did a search on the web to find a formula that would compare the list of matches and I was lucky to find the formula. So my sister’s matches were in column A and my matches were in column C. I keyed the formula of =IF(ISERROR(MATCH(A3,$C$3:$C$651,0)),"",A3) in Column B3. I copied the formula down until line 651.  

As you can see it worked great to identify the matches and I can see exactly which page the match was from too. Since I keyed in the matches, starting with page 1 and working to page 13; I went into each of her matches, and Starred the match and recorded a note.

However, I wanted to record the matches for me too. So I had to modify the formula for Column D and thus used =IF(ISERROR(MATCH(C3,$A$3:$A$651,0)),"",C3). I placed that formula in D3 and copied it down to line 651. This allowed me to identify the same matches, but now I know what page the results could be found for my results. I Starred my matches and recorded a similar note.

I am not sure if all this work is going to help me much, but it makes me feel as if I am trying to discover our common matches.

On my wish list from AncestryDNA is as follows: The minimum is to be able to export a list of our DNA matches such as all our matches, or only those we have starred, or just the new matches. My big dream wish is that there would be a way to compare my matches with any other match from my list. For example, I would like to know if I have any common matches with kathyval.  By comparing our common matches, I might be able to figure out what branch we have in common by checking out all our common matches.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Workspace

After reading the latest Family Tree Magazine and seeing all the "professionals" work spaces, made me rethink my work space.

Actually, I have a wonderful work space, my husband built me a dedicated building/room. It is a 12 foot by 12 foot room that is about 10 feet off the back of the house, behind my master bedroom. Between my master bedroom and my "Computer" room is what I call the Kitty Garden. This is an enclosed area that we let the cats out and they are safe and can't wander off. This is unless your name is Phantom, because he is my jumper and he jumps over the 8 foot fence. Actually he jumps up to the top part which is lattice and then climbs over and jumps down. However, I digressed.

Back to my work space, I set this space up back in 2003 when my husband built me this wonderful building. I have two doors, one facing the back of my home and the other perpendicular to that door facing my side yard. That door shares a wall with the window, which I can see the pool.

I decided to put a U shaped desk into this space as you can see. I have a lower lateral file for my records and the hutch expands over the open desk top and the lateral file against the wall. I love the cubbies for papers, books, folders, sheet protectors and other things. I also like that I have to closed door storage. The one in the corner has all my computer manuals, disks and such that come when you purchase hardware. I have my printer manuals, my computer manuals (all computers, laptops and tablets). This why if I need to re-install anything, I know exactly where to find it. The other closed door storage has all my labels and such. I have many different kinds and sizes of labels for all my projects, even those for non-genealogy related items. To the right of the hutch you can see part of my book shelf. I found out quickly that I needed more bookshelf space and this is a small one about 19" wide, just big enough so that I can still open my door that is facing the back of my home.

As you can see, I have way too much stuff. However, I have learned that it takes baby steps to de-clutter. Actually, I managed to take out a huge garbage bag of stuff. I finally trashed some old hardware that either doesn't work or I don't use anymore.

I use two monitors, because I like having my genealogy program open on one screen and the internet open on another. I have my printer on the left (in the picture) on a stand that stores the rest of the ream of paper that doesn't fit in the printer. The other side has some fun color paper that I might use. I love the two drawers on the bottom of this stand, for post-it-notes and other little handy objects. I like the fact that I have two work areas, one on the right and one on the left of me. I can work on two projects if need be. I try not to do that but, sometimes in the middle of my genealogy project I might need to do something for my society and thus I can keep the papers separate from each other.

I know I have lots of room for improvement. First of all, I have stop shopping for small office supplies because I was becoming a hoarder of office supplies. I have post-it-notes coming out of my ears, I have tons of scrap paper too and thus I don't need anymore. Plus I manage to pick free supplies from various trade shows, so I have learned that I need to say no.

I also need to be better at not hiding stuff in my computer room, because I don't know where to put it in my home. I need to make room for everything and not ignore the problem and put the items in my computer room. I need to keep my desk as clean as if I was working outside the home. My husband would get a kick out of visiting me at work because my office and desk and work were immaculate while my home office was not so much. I also still have areas of my computer room to clean up, but since I am leaving for the summer, it will have to wait until I get back. At least I will be coming back to a mostly organized room.

So how would you grade your space? I would give my space a grade of a B-. It is a little above average but there is still more that needs to be done.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

My Mother
On this Mother's Day my thoughts always go back to my mother and then to her mother. Both of these people are no longer with us, but are always in my heart and my thoughts.

My mother was born with the name of Orlien Mary Hiltz but was raised as Orlien Mary Hafenstein. She was born on May 2, 1927 to Katherine Hiltz. My grandmother was 19 when my mother was born, her own mother had died only 2 years prior to my mother's birth.

I know my grandmother's only regret is that she had to drop out of school during her mother's illness and never was able to go back. I think how brave my grandmother must have been to decide to keep her little fatherless daughter. I'm sure people told her that no one would want her now. Well she showed them all when in 1929 she married her husband and gave birth to two more daughters.

My Grandmother
My mother didn't find out that she was illegitimate until after her 18th birthday. My grandfather decided to legally adopt my mother so that she would not have to go through life presenting an illegitimate birth certificate. My mother never told any of her nine children about her illegitimate birth and thus I don't know how my mother handled the shock of it all. She was one of the strongest women I ever met. She too found her self "in trouble" before getting married, but the father of her child, loved her and made an honest women out of her. She moved around a lot during her short 8 year marriage. When she just found out she was pregnant with child number 6, her husband died as a result of a tragic work related accident. That only man she knew as her father had died 8 months prior that same year. So now, she lost the two most important men in her life.

She moved in with her mother and her sister, with her other sister and her husband living downstairs. My mother had to learn how to drive, to handle the finances, to get a job, to do all the things she didn't think she would be doing. She even gave birth to her 6th child on what would have been her ninth wedding anniversary.  

She married my father who was a co-worker of her brother-in-law two years after the birth her 6th child. She gave my father three children of her own, with me being the youngest. However, the other two were both born with learning disabilities. Therefore my mother had children living with her until she died in 2002 at the age of  75.

My mother taught me many things, such as being able to do anything I set my mind to. She also taught all her children there is no such thing as women or men's work. That if there is a chore to do, someone needs to do it. She taught all her children to how to cook, clean and to handle finances. She said when her first husband died, she felt loss because she didn't even now how to write a check or balance the checkbook. She did such a good job with the finances, that I had to show my father how my mother did things when she died. And to this day, I had all my family's finances the way my mother showed me.

I miss her as much today as I did the day my husband told me. The only difference is that I found the strength to get through each day. So to my mother and grandmother, Happy Mother's Day, you both have set the standards high and I hope I can be half the mother and grandmother you both were!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Who are Elizabeth Lighthall's parents?

I have started my newest brick wall, trying to prove who Elizabeth Lighthall’s parents really are.

Known facts, according to her Gravestone, she is the wife of John Sponable and died March 20, 1861 at the age of 85 years 8 months.

I used John Sponable’s father, Johannes Spanknable on my DAR application and this was accepted because someone else had supplied the necessary proof of this relationship. Plus, since my DAR application was on the Sponable side of the family, I didn't have to prove who Elizabeth’s parents were.

I have seen many on-line trees that seem to be leaning towards a George Sponable born about 1740 and his wife Margaret Cunningham.

In the book, “Early Families of Herkimer County New York; Descendants of the Burnetsfield Palatines” by William V.H. Barker, on page 166 has a little of this George’s ancestry.  It list 5 of his children but no more. My Elizabeth was born abt 1775-1776 and the book lists his first child as Maria born 1777. This doesn’t rule out Elizabeth but it doesn't confirm it either.

Next I turned to the Online Resource, Schenectady County, New York: Its History to the Close of the Nineteenth Century: Chapter XXIV: Genealogy of the Lighthall Family located at This site is based on the book by the same name by Austin A Yates, pages 278-279. However, it doesn't mention George only his father and siblings from the first book I used.

Next I found the book “Compendium of Early Mohawk Valley Families, Volume 1” by Maryly B Penrose at my local genealogical society.  On pages 485 & 486 starts the Lighthall family and it seems to be centered on George’s family and does list him briefly as serving in the Tryon County Militia. Plus it has the birth of George & Margretha’s child Maria born 6/21/1777 which matches the first book. Also, I found a little paragraph describing George’s service in the Revolutionary war and list his birth as 1747.

Finally I turned to to see what records I could find on the Lighthall clan and I am currently using the U.S. Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926. From the books and this baptism and marriage records I am constructing a tree on George’s Family. I didn't want to put them into my main family tree since I haven’t found the connection, but I also wanted to go through the records and see what I could find.  I am hoping that once I find the connection I can merge this tree into my main family tree. I have found that many of the on-line trees seem to have his brother Nicholas listed as his father.  I haven’t come across a record showing that Nicholas had a son name George yet.

I left a post on Ancestry’s message board asking for how people came up George as Elizabeth’s father. I haven’t tracked down a death certificate yet or even marriage record for my Elizabeth. I have read that the records from 1775-1778 are missing and this might be why I can’t find what I am looking for. Finally, I have had my AncestryDNA done and perhaps I will match someone via our trees and see if I match any of George’s other children or perhaps through one of his known brothers.

If I find out anything more, I will make sure to post it here!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sharing some of my Memories

In response to Randy Seaver’s Blog “” Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (15 Feb 2014), he asked six questions about our own life story. So here are my answers…

a)     What was your first illness as a child? I remember having chicken pox at about age 4. I know I hadn’t started school and I believe my older sister who was in Kindergarten brought home the lovely germ. She missed school one week and then the following week, myself, one sister and one brother had the pox together. I remember playing with my older brother and it was actually fun having him home for the week. My brother is five years older and this was a great bonding time for us.

b)  What was the first funeral you attended?
I remember attending my paternal grandfather’s funeral. Again, I was about four or five years old. I remember I had to good, because my Dad was so sad. This is the only memory I have of my grandfather. I remember sitting at the funeral and seeing the casket in front of me, but I don’t remember anything else.

c)  What was your favorite book as a child?
This will sound bad, but I don’t remember reading as a small child. I also know I was a poor reader until 6th grade and a friend, who had teachers as parents, introduced me to the Nancy Drew Mystery Series. I started reading those books and it would take me 3 plus weeks to read the first books. By the time I got to the end of the series, I could read a book in 3 hours. This friend opened the world to me and this is when I started to read more. I don’t think I would have turned to genealogy if I haven’t become a better reader. I am so blessed to have children who also love to read.

d)  What was your favorite class in elementary school?
It would have to be 5th grade. I remember being the poorest at Math. In 3rd grade, my older brother would do my homework because he loved to show off how easy it was for him to do. I remember speeding through 4th grade math but by the time I was in 5th grade, I tested poor and was in a special group in the worst Math class. I didn’t know my times table. However, by the end of the year, I was in the highest Math class and I was in the special group for the best students in Math. I was lucky that the school decided to try something new that year and pull all the students and arrange us by our skills. I have excellent Math skills now.

e)  What was your favorite toy as a child?
I had a Baby Tender Love that I adored. I named her Marie after my middle name. The next year I received a Talking Baby Tender Love and I named her Brenda after my niece that was born that year. I saved those dolls for when I had children of my own. I gave them to my oldest daughter who proceeded to write all over my precious little babies. I was crushed. She pretty much destroyed my dolls and I end up having to throw them away.

f)  Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn? In fourth grade, the YMCA offered a free week of swimming lessons. I learned the basics but when they wanted us to jump off the high dive, I did go back for the last day of lessons. My mother was a good swimmer and then when we went camping, she taught me how to float and how to swim better.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

To PDF or JPG?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon finally attacking one of the many photo albums my sister lent to me that she received from our Aunt Mary.

I decided to chose the album that consisted of Marriage Invitations. It wasn't until I was almost to the end of the album that I wondered if I should have scanned these items as JPG instead of PDF's? I like JPG's because you can get a preview in the directory, plus when you are using Windows Photo Viewer, one can easily scroll through all the images.

I wish I had questioned myself about which format I should use before I started the projected and the reason it was a PDF, was because I scanned some documents for my Genealogical Society that I was going to share via email.

I decided to do a little research on the subject and the consensuses seems to be consider saving master copies of photos as TIFFs and use JPG copies to share and for everyday viewing. PDF format is good choice for documents. So the big question is, are the Marriage Invitations considered documents? My first answer is yes, but I wonder about putting these documents into my genealogy software program.

This leads me to my second research experiment and I quickly opened my genealogy program to see if I could attach a PDF to a person. It was successful and I even saw a thumbnail of my document.

What I have decided is that in the future I need to save each item as a TIFF, then re-save it as a jpg and finally if the image is a document, newspaper article or invitation; I will save it as a PDF.  I think this will give me flexibility with my scans. I will need to stick a Post-it-Note about scanning in TIFF, JPG and PDF format to help me remember the next time. Plus, if I find time, I might revisit the photo album I did yesterday and rescan those items as TIFF and JPG.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

American Foursquare

A style popular ca. 1900-1920 by mail-order catalogs such as Sears and Roebuck and speculative builders that were part of a larger movement toward simplified rectilinear domestic architecture. Distinguished primarily by its box-like massing and broad proportions, and often devoid of overt stylistic references, the prototypical Foursquare is two stories in height, with a hipped roof, widely overhanging eaves, central dormers and a one-story porch spanning the front facade. Several features alleviate the stark massing and straight lines of the Foursquare: the low pitch and overhanging eaves of the hipped roof, echoed in the dormer and porch roofs, minimize some of the structure’s sheer bulk, and the front porch, an essential component of the Foursquare plan, is often supported by Tuscan columns and features a filled-in or balustrade railing. The simple exterior is reflected in the straightforward interior plan of the Foursquare, which typically features four large rooms on each floor and a corner reception hall and stairway that is reflected in the asymmetrical placement of the front door. Relatively simple and inexpensive to build, the Foursquare provided spacious “modern” homes to Americans for the first several decades for the twentieth century.

The City of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is rife with examples of the American Foursquare. Numbering over 450 examples in the city, they are colloquially referred to as the “Fond du Lac Square.” They are located throughout the city and include single examples to clusters, while exterior sheathing ranges from brick to stucco to wooden shingle and clapboard.

I was lucky enough to purchase such a home back in 2012. When we purchased the home, we were told it was built ca. 1908. I did check out the town plat map and discovered that a smaller home was on my lot prior to 1908. My husband and I are slowly working on getting this home back to the original beauty. I fell in love with all the natural woodwork on the first floor. The house was four bedrooms and a prior homeowner combined the two smaller front bedrooms into one large master bedroom. The upstairs hall built-in has been modified and I have seen pictures of other homes on what it should look like and I hope to bring new life to the built-in. The two smaller bedroom floors, dining room and kitchen all have original hardwood floors showing. The Master bedroom floor had different wood where the wall was removed and the main floor entrance hall wall was also removed and thus new carpet was laid to cover the imperfections. The exterior was repainted, the front porch steps and railing repaired plus a new hanging outdoor light was added. This is my second home that I stay at during the summer to work on family research. In this home, I feel closer to all the relatives that I am researching. The simple house reminds me of the simpler lifestyles that many of our ancestors lived. Of course simpler doesn't mean easier, because I have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, electricity and all the modern electric conveniences that go with electricity. However, sitting on the front porch at night, watching the neighborhood kids playing, just makes me smile!