FANs in family history

Are you getting hot in your research and need a FAN?  This type of FAN wont get you any cooler, in fact you will find yourself working more on those BSO (Bright Shiny Objects)

malubeng / Pixabay

Tonight’s twitterchat is all about FANs –  friends, associates and neighbours

  1. Did your immigrant ancestor emigrate with cousins, friends, or neighbours? Did FANs already in Australia sponsor family members?
  2. Did your ancestors settle near FANs after immigration? Have you found widowed or single FANs living with ancestors, or vice versa?
  3. Have you made any research discoveries by using FANs either through DNA or otherwise? How do you use FANs or extended family to solve “brick walls”?
  4. Do you use social media to identify FANS of family members? What other records and sources have you found useful?

Great places to find FANs

Helen: Inquests, wills, probate records can uncover helpful FAN (friends, associates, neighbours) networks – and those networks can reveal much

Jane: There is quite a bit of information coming together at ancestorian.com now … good place for sharing for everyone (and especially for those people who want an alternative to Fb)

Pauleen: I have found blogging to be a wonderful tool to discovering FANs as they respond to the stories I’ve written, sometimes many years later. I use FB groups for places, and also have a cousin/family group and one for Dorfprozelten emigrants’ families

Tara: Someone mentioned “Kerrytown” earlier. Was searching for something unrelated during lunch and found this section of a book on placenames of South Australia. Might be useful for others published.collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/placenamesofso…

Tara: worth remembering that some Rootsireland county transcriptions will allow you to search a common surname with the name of witness/sponsor. Not Offaly though, which is a pain

Tara: One excellent source for those of you with Irish heritage is @IrelandXO – join the parish page, or county page if parish unknown and get help from locals. Also multiple FB pages

Sue: Need to make sure you use tags and categories in blog posts so more chance of FANs finding it , reading it, and getting in contact with you.

Pauleen: When people know your interests they will share information with you. An elderly man, now not well, has shared so much info and oral history he collected about Murphys Creek Qld

ANZ: Don’t forget to look in your own “archives”: photos, autograph books (more recent), address books (grandmother’s, mother’s, aunt’s, cousins’). How about membership badges from clubs, societies or church groups? School photos?

Pauleen: Establish your networks so people know your research interests eg I was given a house blessing picture for the original Kunkel house. My FANs always alert me when they see the Kunkel name. The current owner of the home shared a heritage survey

SOPS: Quite a few one-placers have found that Facebook pages or groups certainly work well for Places / #OnePlaceStudies. They are great for sharing and receiving information, photos etc of residents and their wider families, and of the Places themselves.

Fran: I regularly check Archway for hints and also the non newspaper section of @PapersPastNZ.

Tara: Found one by accidentally seeing a tweet last week. Grandson of a man whose ancestry I’m researching!

Jill: I have made many connections with FANs through having my family tree online on my own site geniaus.net, and in online trees at the Big 3 pay sites and @FamilySearch #ANZAncestryTime

ANZ: There are so many options for learning more about your ancestors’ FAN’s: oral history, immigration documents, newspaper stories, electoral rolls and PO directories, maps to see who their neighbours were, church witnesses.

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Karen: Mostly using Ancestry.com. Am extremely fortunate that several elderly relatives are still living and have shared memories. Other records that have been useful: NZ Archives, British Archives/newspapers, Trove.

Jennifer: I’ve used Census, Newspapers, local area history books, published family histories, blogs, shipping lists, inquests, Wills and personal letters

Pauleen: Missing persons advertisements in the newspapers (on Trove) can provide clues to family linkages and latest known location – It’s how I linked up Mary O’Brien Kunkel with her sister Bridget later Widdup and the ship

Jill: One of my best finds was an obit in the California Digital Newspaper Collection. Put a bunch of FANs in place in four countries.

Tara: Reminds me of one death record I came across during recent search. Bachelor, death reported by his “Step son” (1880s)

Tara: You have wedding gift lists for FAN, we in Ireland have funeral attendees 🙂

CB: Recently came across some really great ones for a client’s ancestor BUT they described some of his step-kids as actual children, which I didn’t know at the time, meant I had to do further ultimately pointless checking!

ANZ: Kind of nice they were recognised that way within the family but also annoying genealogically.

CB: It is. Good lesson not to blindly believe the report though. This man had been married 4 times so the possibility of unfound children was not, er, impossible.

Jill: Facebook stalking is a great tool for identifying FANs in later generations.

Tara: One thing I have noticed tracing FAN for weddings and christenings in Irish midlands is that they were often first cousins rather than siblings. Testing that hypothesis has often worked

Sue: When researching English, American or Canadian then go to census definitely. In Australia, Trove as well as online records from Tassie.

ANZ: Researching FANs and extended kin has clarified oral history hints by buying certificates. Witnesses to church events reveal long-term friendships and occupational or voyage links.

Jennifer: That’s so true. I found a grooms brother on the marriage certificate. Had thought he was still in Scotland until then

Jill: We also have fantastic funeral reports via @TroveAustralia especially for earlier years.

Tara: Yes, it was through one of those for a great grand uncle that I was able to reconstruct his life after emigration to Australia

Sue: In Tasmania, we are so lucky to have an archives that has digitized so much and put it online for free. Anyone needs help using the Tasmanian Names Index, feel free to contact me. I love using it.

ANZ: Tracking down in-laws and cold-calling can be scary but give you stories and photos that you don’t have. Similarly, school friends may be able to identify people in photos.

Sue: I found a few more relatives by checking wills and who they left heirlooms with, cousins, aunts, nieces et

Jill: FANs names on documents and in newspaper articles can help put our ancestors in a time and place.

Maggie: Following extended family through baptism records in Scotland (where they appeared as sponsors/godparents for each other’s children) and in Ireland helped me identify the townland in Mayo they all left from in the 1850s. All I had before was a county.

Jane: Can’t stay tonight for #ANZAncestryTime sorry … The #BeyondKinMethodology is one way to record people connected to one other and family but not biologically or legally kin e.g., enslaved people, indentured labourers, servants etc. … beyondkin.org/a-method-to-do…

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Immigration and FANs

Dara: Speaking of FANs – Mary Power was my Dad’s Dad’s Godmother. Then, census revealed she was his Ma’s foster mother. Transpired later, her first husband was my mother’s GGG-granduncle & finally, it turned out, she was Dad’s Grandda’s Aunt. A one-lady FAN club.

Jennifer: My ancestor was murdered in Victoria by her husband when her baby was a few days old and unnamed. I eventually found a child of same age & no birth cert living with an aunt in nsw after researching every known relative. Time consuming research but worth it

Pauleen: I’ve found it useful to analyse the gifts listed in wedding notices to distinguish who is a relative or a FAN and where they live.

Fran: So there is one FAN thing I have done when I thought I had done none. Check out wedding parties and social events in @PapersPastNZ can be useful.

ANZ: Researching emigrants from the home place has given me context for my own families/immigrants, and revealed dodgy deals done by the local priest in Clare. The extent of migration from Broadford to Oz had been lost over time in Clare.

ANZ: My GG Gfather was my brick wall. They lived in Tasmania but I eventually found him giving evidence at his son’s inquest in Victoria

Sophie: FANs = super useful in #genealogy research! “No man is an island”: when one can’t ID an individual in records, often the FAN network isn’t far away. Also very handy for IDing long-dist migration into cities where ppl oft settled near known friends/fam too

Pauleen: I made a great discovery by following up the court case of another Dorfprozelten emigrant, Carl Diflo. He mentions that my ancestor, a witness, was a pork butcher on the gold diggings and he knew George from “home”

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Jennifer: My ancestor was missing in 1851 census in Scotland. Found him in 1861 by tracing a neighbour. That neighbour had moved in 1861 and there was my ancestor living next door. Still don’t know where he was in 1851 but was happy to find him again

Maggie: It’s useful to follow the single or widowed relations as they can lead you to connected households – especially useful when you’re dealing with more common surnames. Having an extended family member pop up in a census return helps piece the puzzle together.

Tara: Also (certainly in Irish census records) pay attention to servants, boarders, lodgers, visitors. I’ve found orphaned cousins and widowed/widowered relatives classed as such

Maggie: I’ve seen quite a few family members turn up as visitors – took me a while to work out they were actually related. (thanks, fam)

Fran: Fans is a tool that I do not use much so hopefully tonight’s tweets will enlighten me with new research techniques

Karen: The 2 brothers (2nd gt g’father and brother) from Cornwall didn’t. One stayed in Sydney, the other – regional NSW. No widows (I think), but one female ancestor who was married to a convict was killed very young in a shocking horse and cart accident.

SOPS: Looking at immigration within the UK (that is, to my #OnePlaceStudy!) rather than across the globe, I have certainly noticed a number of cases where people who arrived in my Place were followed there by other members of their family.

Pauleen: Presumably they followed because there were good employment opportunities and/or a pleasant environment?

SOPS: A small village so relatively limited in the way of employment prospects, but sometimes you have to compare those prospects with the ones left behind! In one case I researched, the people concerned moved from another part of the county effectively ‘in recession’.

Pauleen: Irish women were a bit unusual in being willing to emigrate as young, single women. Not always the case with English girls and young women.

Jill: No FANs of my 10 convict ancestors appeared to follow them.

ANZ: How many families of convicts actually come out after them? Do you know if it was a significant percentage? (Or were most single when they were transported?) I’ve heard it happening, but just wondered how common it was! It must have been costly, and it would have necessitated some kind of correspondence… and how many were literate?

Paula: An aunt and her husband were transported in 1835. I’ve found birth records in Scotland for 3 children. 1 recorded on aunt’s ship. Anyone know what would’ve happened to child (infant) on arrival?

Sue: If sent to Tasmania check out the Queens Orphan school records orphanschool.org.au

Sue: in Tasmania, we have a book with families that came out after a convict, but majority of females got remarried out here even if they were already married in England.

Pauleen: I haven’t found single or widowed family members living with FANs, just family. However, for the Germans, having FANs living nearby must have been a wonderful thing to share language and past experiences.

Karen: My mat. 2nd gt g’father emigrated with his brother. His future partner was alone on the same ship. My mat. grt grandfather was still a baby when he arrived in Australia with his parents/siblings. Others alone/in a couple.

Sue: Have one brother, sister and father convicted together in 1847 in Donegal, Ireland, but can only find the female being transported. No idea where bruv and dad got to. From reading, apparently they stopped shipping male convicts from Ireland for the next few years, so maybe they did die in prison. Father in late 50s son only 14.

ANZ: I’ve found many widowed and single ancestors living with their children and family. In Scotland census the females were usually described as housekeeper

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Pauleen: Looking at a map of the Fifteen Mile at Murphys Creek Qld I realised there were familiar names of Dorfprozelten people. When a couple married there were kin in neighbouring areas.

Tara: I don’t know about the family who emigrated to Australia/New Zealand. I’ve found it’s much easier to identify existing connections in US

Pauleen: That’s interesting Tara. Is it because they stayed in touch more, or did citizenship docs help? I was confidently told once that no one from the village went to Australia yet there was a mass exodus in the 1850s and 1860s.

Tara: Immigration records at Ellis Island identify a receiving person and their relationship to the immigrant. Also found grandfather travelled with a girl from far end of parish (NYC), possibly the reported girlfriend before my GM! Haven’t found equiv records for Aus NZ

Pauleen: That’s true about the receiving person. Our mid-19th century shipping lists do sometimes include that, and if you’re really lucky the ship’s disposal lists survive but not digitised. Immigration Deposit Journals tell who paid and who came.

Tara: I’ll have to dig into those. I know my great grand uncle sent his two daughters ahead of him and then he and his son followed within a year

ANZ: Spending the time to research FANS can open up new areas of research and/or find missing ancestors. They will often be found hanging out with FANS

Fran: In my UK & Wales census records my Dawson family often have other members of the family at least visiting on the census date. Not sure if these are longer stay though. This has been helpful in confirming family groupings, however.

Jennifer: I have found no evidence of family being sponsored by family or friends.

Pauleen: Maybe, like mine, they were so busy working to get along that they didn’t have spare cash.

ANZ: It took one of my ancestors a few years to pay for them to come out.

Pauleen: Was that from oral history or were there documents for it?

ANZ: Family story, and passenger listings, trying to piece it together. But possibly timing could have been related to family members back in England dying, so more able to travel after that

Sue: One ggggrandmother was 6 months pregnant on arrival and gave birth to my ancestor on the property where her husband was a servant (not convict). He came out with the wife and another daughter under three – eventually they had 6 children but I haven’t found his death anywhere, think might be goldrush time in Victoria where he went soon after last child born

Jennifer: I just remembered one family who came out with extended family – parents, children, grandmother and two aunts. They all travelled together

Pauleen: Some families did travel in clusters, but I’ve found others who came as singles but with Friends/Neighbours especially during the US Civil war when that was less appealing. I admire those elderly relatives who emigrated to stay with family.

ANZ: It’s amazing how many older folk travelled! Even lying about their age on the passenger lists.

Jennifer: It must have been a terrifying concept for older adults at the time

Pauleen: My immigrants must have been broke or selfish, as I can’t find them sponsoring others even where there was chain #migration. The Immigration Deposit Journals have examples where people sponsored their FANs. Pax lists and newspaper notices may also mention it

Dara: My GGG-grandfather, John Radcliffe, settled in Melbourne. He also had a brother and a cousin who emigrated there. The cousin, who was my GGG-Grandfather’s best man met with a tragic ending in an encounter with a train he didn’t hear coming. Trove gave all the gory details

Fran: We were always told that our GGF came with no relatives however through my research I have found a sister and brother that also migrated to NZ. This shows there is a need to be careful as using FANs may have helped my research.

ANZ: Yes! I’ve found some siblings got “lost” or ostracised over time, especially if they married outside the faith. Quite sad when you think about it.

Pauleen: Very true – family fractures did occur, it wasn’t all sweetness and light. I have one branch that shows evidence of being dysfunctional over generation

Paula: My gg grandmother left Scotland for Australia in 1888 with her husband and their children. (not my g grandfather). I’d love to know why they chose Australia and if there were connections there.

Maggie: Lots of chain migration in our family, most prevalent amongst my Kerry ancestors. And they tended to settle in the same area, and build a community there. There’s a good reason there’s a place called Kerrytown in South Canterbury, NZ!

Sue: My great great grandmother arrived in 1855 with her mother, then in 1856, mum sponsored another daughter, husband and in laws

Jill: Yes in the 1830-40s some of my Ryans from Westmeath emigrated with siblings and then others followed them out. In the 1860-70s my Kealys from Kilkenny did the same thing

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DNA and FANs

Tara: Solved a 39cM DNA match because I’d paid attention to witnesses/sponsors. Established relationship between two families, again paying attention to who was present. Not a brick wall, just a thick hedge!

Maggie: I’ve found unknown siblings of my ancestors thanks to DNA matches with their descendants – great to add to the tree!

Pauleen: Over the years I’ve made quite a few discoveries by searching laterally to FANs including extended kin, oral histories, and photos. Distant cousins have also been confirmed through the DNA of known FANs/extended kin

Sue: definitely need to follow siblings etc if using for DNA. Found where in Devon my great great grandfather was born due to his siblings ancestor testing DNA

Jill: Following the Family lines down the generations is essential in #DNA Research if one wants to identify matches

Blog posts

Helen: Using witnesses on documents,

Jennifer: Family immigrating, missing gggrandfather found,

Sue: My unknown Grandfather and DNA

Readers: How has looking at FANs helped with your family history research?

Researching online

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During 2020, COVID19 shut down many of the record offices, archives and libraries where genealogists around the world would have gone to do some research. But many of these repositories thought outside the box and made some resources available online. Others had already had a great online digitized presence.

These were the questions tonight:

  1. Which main genealogy sites do you use in your research? (subscription & free) What features do you find helpful? ie hints, help sections, records, shaky leaves
  2. Do you have a family tree on any genealogy websites? What are the pros and cons of putting your tree online?
  3. Have you tested your DNA? Is your DNA attached to an online tree and has this been helpful in your research
  4. What genealogy gems have you found on a genealogy website?

Sites used

  • Judy: Links to some of my favourite online resources are in ‘40 of my favourite #genealogy indexes/sources’  Others are about using FindMyPast
  • Jill: I subscribe to the 3 big subscription databases and the Free Familysearch. Love to have the convenience of anywhere, anytime availability. Other than those my staples are Trove, the NAA, NSW State Records.  I forgot to mention the Ryerson index in my list of staples. It is always open in a tab when doing Australian research. I also love the Australian Cemeteries Index and any other online cemetery index.
  • Fran: I use @Ancestry and @MyHeritage as both have loads of records and useful DNA functionality including matches to review.
  • Maggie P: Papers Past here in NZ is free and has helped me find some really informative bits of family history, and has sorted out more than a few queries
  • Pauleen: which online sites I use depends on what type of research and which country I’m focused on. I also use them to complement and crosscheck each other
  • Sandra: The most helpful for me is Ancestry and FamilySearch websites and the church record images (German research)
  • Margaret: WikiTree, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Google, Internet Archive, Find my Past, Find a Grave, BDM Online, Archway, Papers Past, Scotlands People, FreeCen, FreeReg, FreeBMD, Irishgenealogy, GRO, Canadian records, USA records, Trove, etc. I forgot about Online Cenotaph for war records. Always look there for people of the right age group.
  • Pauleen: I find Council cemetery sites invaluable for tracing deceased relatives. You can search by Council /place + cemetery. So many are online now but Toowoomba led the field.
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  • Jennifer: I Mainly use @Ancestry @findmypast @FamilySearch plus the Ancestry app. There are others I use from time to time depending on my area of research at the time
  • Shauna: Trove is my must go to website for Australian digitised newspapers. You can find some really great stories for your relatives. SA Genealogy is real value for money, have been a member for years
  • Fran: PapersPast is one of my favourites, probably 1st. I think it is because my GGF and GF were always there submitting articles and adverts. My favourites are papers past from NZ and the index search for Births, Deaths and Marriage in NZ. It covers the vital records and filling in the gaps between with Papers Past in just two sites. Always have a browser open for these 2
  • Brooke: I subscribe to Ancestry, FindMyPast, & British Newspaper Archives. My tree(s) are on Ancestry & my favourite feature is the record sets catalogue. I don’t use FamilySearch very much. I don’t know how to get the best out of it (& I don’t like the idea of the global tree). Tasmanian Names Index is brilliant for researching my husband’s family…& random convicts just for the fun of it
  • Maggie P: When I started researching it was hard to find much Irish info- but now a whole lot is available online eg civil registration, censuses, Griffiths land valuations
  • Maggie: I use mostly FamilySearch, FindmyPast and Ancestry, plus also ScotlandsPeople and irishgenealogy.ie. I love that they all have different strengths (and records!)  how could I forget about FreeBMD, and also GRO! Not to mention our very own bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz
  • Pauleen: The thing I love most about Trove (and Papers Past for NZers) is that you can find stories you’d never have been able to find any other way -unless scrolling through decades of papers is your thing.
  • Pauleen: Favourite sites include FindMyPast (Irish), Ancestry (DNA and general), ScotlandsPeople (Scotland), ScotlandsPlaces, Nat Lib Scotland, TROVE, FamilySearch, DNAPainter, MyHeritage etc. I’d place Trove & ScotlandsPeople ahead of all the rest except for DNA
  • Margaret: For DNA matching I use Ancestry, MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. I belong to various Facebook groups. I research on my Legacy tree building my matches’ pedigrees to find our MRCA
  • Carmel: The familysearch wiki familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_P… is always a good place to start but Trove has been my favourite for quite a while
  • Jane: Ancestry, FindMyPast etc. for records, DNAPainter for useful tools, Papers Past and Trove for newspapers etc. … lots of other places e.g., Lancashire Online Parish Clerk … depends what I am focused on.
  • Soc OPS: FMP has scans of Shropshire, Staffordshire & Cheshire PRs, invaluable to my #OnePlaceStudy research and otherwise only accessible at archives (currently closed), so in practical terms that’s as close to those sources as I can get. Ditto other PRs on Ancestry.
  • Pauleen: I much prefer to go direct to source when searching rather than through the “genealogy giants”. I use Qld BDM extensively and NSW as required
  • Dara: Main sites are Ancestry for trees & Findmypast for records, and where ever else the research goes. For DNA it’s Ancestry & MyHeritage. Tested at FTDNA but it’s sooo slow. May delete GEDmatch kits -concerned as users say deleted kits have reappeared. Watching!
  • Maggie ~scans: have had some great success with Ireland Reaching Out website- found a second cousin who was able to identify who was in a photo. And remain in contact.
  • Fiona: Beyond the main paid sites, I use a number of websites for my research. I have the main NZ ones listed on my website and others I have pinned on Pinterest.
  • Soc OPS: For my #OnePlaceStudy research I typically use Ancestry, FMP, FreeBMD, Shropshire BMD, GRO birth/death indexes, FamilySearch, British Newspaper Archive, GENUKI, National Library of Scotland Maps, Streetmap, Google / Google Books and others. From these sources I use records, newspaper notices and articles, parish / locality info, old and current maps, old books and whatever Google searches can bring me! And yes, Ancestry Hints and member trees too, evaluated before being accepted / rejected

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  • Hilary: I mainly use @MyHeritage for DNA matches and doing more on updating my connection to global tree @WikiTreers and @FamilySearch
  • Maggie: great to double check the same record sets across the various sites. I get free access via our National Library when I need it.
  • Maggie: Quite a few digitised records now available from here too (including WW1 service records, some land indexes): archway.archives.govt.nz
  • Jane: The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection can be useful … nzetc.victoria.ac.nz I have found one or two gems there
  • Hilary: I am using more free to access sites now and my National library of Wales access to some subscription sites
  • Sue: For DNA stuff, definitely Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, LivingDNA – but as most of my research was Tasmanian based, then Libraries Tasmania Tasmanian Names Index
  • Pauleen: I am not happy with some Family Search databases now which comply with legal requirements but IMO don’t with ethics since they include full details of a person’s Birth and parents’ marriage, not to mention adoptions.
  • Pauleen: Do you use the catalogue to search what’s available for your area, irrespective of the site you’re using? It helps you to understand what one site offers compared to another.
  • Shauna: Archway is the NZ Archives online catalogue – similar to RecordSearch in NAA or any of the state archives catalogues. Names have been indexed and some digitisation too
  • Maggie: I’ve used The Genealogist for English tithe records – great resource – but I don’t find the search facility very intuitive. Need to spend more time on the site!
  • Pauleen: MyHeritage is a bit of an acquired skill to use I’ve found and I think it’s become more challenging rather than less. Conversely they have good German family trees that match mine.
  • Sandra G: top 5 are Trove, Ancestry, SA Genealogy (member), NSW State Archives, National Archives for War service records
  • Pauleen: Records are my main reason I use all the online sites. Hints and shaky leaves intermittently – Having researched for so long I can usually recognise a valid hint immediately. Other’s trees as clues to more recent info and cousin contact info.
  • Hilary: I use Ancestry and FMP mainly Family Search sometimes also The Genealogist I rarely use My Heritage as don’t like results
  • Pauleen: Do you know you can see the British (and Irish) newspapers online if you have a Nat Library of Australia card? Also JSTOR articles…was very excited when that was done!
  • Sharn: My most used sites are Familysearch, FindmyPast, Ancestry.com, The Genealogist, Roots Ireland, Emerald Ancestors, Scotlands People, Trove, British Newspaper Archives, DNA painter
  • Pauleen: And FindMyPast is the go to for Irish records as well as irishgenealogy.ie and registers.nli.ie Fingers crossed the GV will eventually be digitised online
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Trees: Where? Pros/Cons

  • Sharn: I have both public and private trees on Ancestry too. Trees I research for others are always private. My own extensive tree is public but if I’m researching actively and putting out feelers I set it to private. I have made contacts via my blog too but my best contacts have come from my Ancestry tree. A few from my My Heritage tree also. I uploaded my Ancestry Gedcom to FamilySearch specifically so I could participate in relatives around me at Rootstech. Someone changed something in my tree but it was easily fixed.
  • Sue: My main family tree online is with Ancestry but I have a basic one on MyHeritage and Family Search – find them difficult to make changes but I also have a much larger tree on home computer. In the profiles of people on my Ancestry tree, I include links to online records other than those from Ancestry databases – eg Trove, Tasmanian Names Index etc. Proves to readers you have done more research.
  • Sharn: I’ve been using the web links and the DNA tags but my tree is large so I’ll keep plodding away.
  • Maggie: I have a number of family trees online, but all are private except for skeleton ones connected to DNA accounts I manage. I think I need to flesh the latter ones out to make the most of the matching functionality.
  • Margaret: My Legacy tree on my computer is about 10,000 people. It goes everywhere including hypothetical people. I use that to get my GEDCOM but I limit that. I have lots of experimental trees too for DNA matches. I need to add more sources. I have put GEDCOMS of my Legacy tree on Ancestry, Gedmatch and FTDNA. I used to have a large MyHeritage tree, but I have deleted it back to the minimum size as I do not want to have to spend time updating that
  • Fiona: I have my main tree offline (great for creating reports for book skeletons) and only use my online trees for generating hints and DNA connections.
  • Gen X Alogy: I have a tree on Ancestry. Downside is keeping track of bits I may not wish to have uploaded, but that’s about it… so many upsides, particularly using it/having it used to connect with distant cousins. I’ve met so many great people!!
  • Shauna: Blaine Bettinger stressed complete trees when he was out here and I have been finding it really useful to trace all descendants of an ancestor couple where possible
  • Hilary: I have been updating my connections @WikiTreers with better citations and connected to @FamilySearch tree my Ancestry tree has always been private and needs updating get more connections on free sites. I like that I can write a biography for an individual @WikiTreers
  • Sandra G: I have my own website but I have not updated in a while. have public trees and some private trees on ancestry. Con for ancestry is people just copying without contacting or responding to messages.
  • Carmel: In my online tree at MyHeritage I include links to blog posts I have written about folks
  • Sandra G: So in saying that for messages on ancestry I did today receive a reply From a message I sent 13 years ago.
  • Sharn: I find having a tree online is an excellent way to find relatives providing their tree is correct. People copying my tree and popping it on to the wrong family is a downside. But the good outweighs the bad
  • Pauleen: Not to mention using photos that have a clear copyright symbol and name on them where I’ve taken them overseas. I’ve written to a few people who’ve used people photos that are incorrect – some reply and correct. I do find it frustrating when I get in touch with someone because of linked trees (& maybe DNA) and where I offer new info, only to find the next time they’ve made the tree private.
  • Brooke: But how do you decide what to leave out? Knock on wood, but I haven’t seen any negatives yet from having my full tree online.
  • Margaret: I have worked on my and many other families on FamilySearch, removing duplicates and confirming information from other records like BDM Online. I have put about 600 profiles on @WikiTreers which includes my pedigree line. I am checking these again to add any further information which will take some months. That is my best tree
  • Shauna: I have my tree online in a few places plus I have blogged about families too. It is definitely cousin bait as I have made connections I would not necessarily found. Sharing online seems to be one of the ways to make sure your research is findable in future
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  • Pauleen: I agree that blogging brings all sorts of information to the fore, much completely unexpected. Similarly having a network of people who know your research interests can make a big difference
  • Maggie ~scans: I was able to put some of my Dad’s WW2 photos online there- he had named the people in them. They let me know one day that someone had found their father in one of my Dad’s photos
  • Jane: My main trees are on Ancestry and backed up to my computer using FamilyTreeMaker. Having trees online helps with connections and collaboration
  • Carmel: online @ MyHeritage and limited trees on Ancestry and FMP All good for finding rellies. My ancestors don’t belong to just me. Gradually adding some to FamilySearch and Wikitree
  • Jill: The biggest pro is making connections. I wouldn’t put everything online just enough to be effective cousin bait.
  • Pauleen: PROS: Online trees can help you identify cousins even if they only have basic trees. They may know how many living family members of a branch. You can use them to connect for DNA. They can also see your line for DNA and research.   CONS: The inevitable potential for errors to be made, the unreliability of the data recorded, the dead-ends in many US trees when they reach immigrants, the one or three person “trees” for DNA matches
  • Fran: Keeping multiple trees is time consuming so they do get out of date easily. Sometimes I just use branches. I like the hints however can turn them off to stay focused.
  • Brooke: Ancestry is where my online tree lives. I recently ‘upgraded’ it to contain all my family tree branches & I’ve been getting great cousin participation. I sync my Ancestry trees to Family Tree Maker.
  • Fran: One of my goals with the Ancestry Tree is to improve others trees. I always attached good sources so that others might review these and fix their trees. Mine is not perfect however I do use disclaimers, eg not verified
  • Jill: I believe that, if you want to make connections you must put your research out there in cyberspace. My main database is on my PC but I have my own website, and scaled down trees on the Big 4.

DNA – matches, searching


  • Jill: I have tested with the 5 main companies. The best results have come from Ancestry. My aboriginal ethnicity been confirmed – the family stories were right. I have made new connections and reconnected with other cousins
  • Dara: Sadly, my matches are rarely interested in collaborating. What is wrong with my family?!!!
  • Maggie: I was lucky my parents were happy to do it – I gave them as Christmas gifts one year. Only took them nine months to actually do them!
  • Fiona: @patientgenie and I have done two Ancestry Facebook videos on DNA.
  • Sharn: I visited a third cousin in Chicago who found me on Ancestry. I arrived there in 2015 with DNA kits. We spat together in her kitchen the morning after I arrived and all I could think was – what if we aren’t related….. we were!
  • Sandra G: DNA on Ancestry. This has helped to confirm actual research. Also for my great great grandfather, I am sure I have worked from matches that he is not who he says he was. I need to write up my research to post it to my blog to
  • Maggie: Quite a few matches coming through on MyHeritage, but they seem to have less useful trees on there, sometimes difficult to identify where they fit in. I have a basic pedigree public for each of my parents, but it’s useful to go wide and include more than just direct ancestors – easier to identify where matches fit in. I tend to do that part offline at the moment.
  • Sue: tested with Ancestry and Living DNA but also uploaded to MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. Attached to trees on each site where possible and been very helpful especially my dad’s DNA tests – I look after about 8 DNA tests for relatives. Many I asked to prove or disprove NPE with Dad’s DNA – found he now only has half relations except for my brother and I
  • Jennifer: I was planning on learning more about DNA at DNA Down Under but was sick and couldnt go. Still don’t know much. I have had my DNA tested by @Ancestry As yet I have only attached it to my basic outline tree on Ancestry My only excuse for this is slackness. I haven’t done anything useful to my research with my DNA results. They are just sitting there waiting for me to learn more about DNA.
  • Shauna: My grandmother always refused to talk to me about the family and told me not to trace back. I always thought it was about the skeletons in her family – little did I know she was hiding her own skeleton. Truth will out
Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay
  • Soc OPS: Ancestry DNA (for myself, my father, my brothers and several cousins, linked to my Ancestry tree) which has helped confirm much of my paper trail research; no breakthroughs on my brickwall born-out-of-wedlock ancestors yet though. Plus yDNA.
  • Margaret: Parents and all 1st cousins on my father’s side dead. Two siblings have not tested. I’m the oldest, so my DNA is the best available. It seems to go back to early 1700s. I’ve done two and a third is on its way to me. Both attached to trees, one private one not. Without DNA matching I would have had no chance to find my father’s family which seems to have missed most records. I spend much time going through a list of kits. I have about 200,000 DNA matches within my close family and various cousins at various distances. I found my 2xgreat grandfather’s family by DNA matching combines with research. Now I am on the trail of the generation before,
  • Maggie ~scans: With a combo of IrelandReachingOUt website, my DNA matches, and FB- I had organised to meet a knowledgeable cousin in Ireland last year- but with COVid the trip never happened. Having my DNA attached to a tree has helped me clarify more about my Scettrini matches who emigrated to the US. Helpful as some in Oz have gone up the wrong tree!
  • Shauna: Testing my DNA revealed a very close family secret which was a shock. But then DNA helped me find my father’s biological family. No regrets because I prefer the truth.
  • Sharn: I have my DNA linked to trees on Ancestry and My Heritage. I love the moment when I click on a tree match and find the DNA also matches. The paper trail is confirmed
  • Brooke: my DNA test is connected to my Ancestry tree. So is Dad’s test. There’s some real potential there to break down the brick wall that is the mystery of Dad’s maternal grandfather
  • Jill: Haven’t found a close NPE yet but I think my large match with Mr Smith might be one. I can see that he has read my last message. Just wish he would answer!
  • Sandra C: I did an Ancestry DNA test and uploaded those results to MyHeritage and FTDNA. Two of those are attached to a tree. Very helpful. Trees are private though while I try to push back further in time and until I can find documents to further prove things.
  • Hilary: I tested with @myheritagedna but not had much success matches are distant and other trees non existent
  • Maggie: I’ve had mine and my parents’ DNA tested, and attached trees to theirs. It has been wonderful to use the results to help back up research I’ve done over the years and confirm hypotheses
  • Fran: DNA attached to my tree in @Ancestry and @MyHeritage. Does help you locate branches for DNA matches.
  • Jane: I have tested with 3 companies and have uploaded to a number of others … I always link my DNA to myself … it helps to make connections so that I can build in collateral lines
  • Pauleen: Yes I’ve tested with most of the big companies or uploaded. I’ve connected DNA to my online tree. It’s much more helpful now more people have tested and I can more readily assign them to my lines. None of the DNA companies have shown my German ethnicity, and Irish is haphazard. Cousins testing has been helpful in confirming paper trails and distant connections.

    cattu / Pixabay

Genealogy gems

  • Pauleen: I think what you get with NLA is the same as the subscription sites. Keep planning to do a full comparison, but haven’t. I use my FMP subs for newspaper searching mostly. I was doing cartwheels when I learned about JSTOR via NLA.
  • Maggie: I did a lot of my NZ research from England while I was living there – plenty of online resources available, and easy to order certs/printouts. Enjoy!
  • Society for OPS: I’ve found gems for others too, including a friend & former work colleague who was adopted as a baby. Traditional research on her maternal side (one ancestor was a stage magician!), DNA eventually unravelled her paternal side and revealed half-siblings!
  • Maggie: The most significant gem would have to be John Burke’s baptism in Aughagower parish, Co Mayo – found on RootsIreland. Was the beginning of identifying extended family all in one townland.
  • Fiona: Everyday brings genealogy gems – some happy, some not. This week has included a young family of girls emigrating from Aust to NZ in 1883 and finding out what happened to them; and today it was a murder. Each adds to the wider family story.
  • Hilary: I find the GRO indexes have helped me find missing relatives and prove a family story regarding a child who died young. Premature birth found inquest in newspaper
  • Sharn: Thanks to a passenger record for a Pan Clipper I am trying to work out why my g uncle was flying between England and New York during WW2. Was he a spy?
  • SocOPS: So many, for my own tree, and for my #OnePlaceStudy and one-name study research, it’s difficult to know where to start! Photos, records, newspaper reports . . . online resources have been a treasure trove (just as well during a pandemic-induced lockdown!)
  • Sue: Researching my direct relatives wills, I found out who gave me my piano that I used to play as a child. Didn’t know it then though.  Then I found out my GGgrandmothers brother-in-law was a piano maker in Hobart – I now wonder if the piano had come down through the family from then in the 1860s
Tama66 / Pixabay
  • Sharn: Last year through a DNA match on Ancestry.com and building a tree I linked an adoptee to my family tree. He was adopted in the 1940’s and has now met his half siblings in the US. Quite a Gem
  • Hilary: my gems have got to be newspaper finds on @findmypast things such as obituaries, Marriages and inquests various court reports and even properly sale pointing to a Burial date
  • Margaret: I found by DNA matching and research that my great grandmother’s sister had emigrated to Invercargill and was buried in the local cemetery. She had my two forenames.
  • Sandra C: My genealogy gems are when looking through the German church records and being able to find the whole family. Sad though when you find a brother or sister only to find they died at age 2.
  • Shauna: A fantastic find was a sketch of my GG grandfather in a digitised newspaper. With no photos, this was really good
  • Carmel: on Trove wonderful description of my parents wedding and extensive reporting of gt-grandparents golden wedding celebrations, on FS will of gt grandfather giving his land to daughter, my grandmother
  • Pauleen: Trove discoveries include the extent of an ancestors confectionery skills, fires, floods & near-death experiences. Another great grandfather was a bandmaster in Longreach -lost to the family memory. Recently that a great aunt had briefly joined the convent.
  • Brooke: Can’t go past Aunty Joy who found me using Ancestry messaging. She really was a gem.
  • Pauleen: Finding a news story about my great-grandfather’s anti-vax stand and with wonderful assistance from a genimate, proving a family story & learning more about my ancestor’s experience
  • Pauleen: My genealogy gems have mainly been found offline in libraries and archives. Trove however is gold for revealing all sorts of real-life stories about my ancestors that would otherwise never be known.

Love this quote:

Carmel and Fran: Love that comment that your ancestors don’t just belong to you. Sometimes people seem to be a bit territorial with their research.

Readers: What are your three favourite places to research online? Why those three?