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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Private Trees On Ancestry

Are you hiding out on Ancestry? Or rather are you hiding your tree, keeping it secret, or flying under the radar undetected? Those cautious family tree seekers crack me up. I am all for privacy settings and keeping living people's identity super top secret. After all, there is too much identity theft out there in the world today. However, I'm not sure how much can be stolen from a family tree full of those who have passed on. Ancestry is excellent about keeping living people's information private.

I can totally understand if you want to play your cards close to the vest but setting up a private tree and then networking with others does not really pay off. It's nice if we can see your tree when you ask if we are related. Even with all of this privacy technology, your private tree can be reviewed via member connect options if enough information matches up. This only applies to those who have passed on, of course. Living individuals are still protected by privacy.

So what is everyone afraid of out there? As I've indicated in my previous posts, networking is part of your key to success in finding your ancestors, especially further up the line. I admit to separating out my family tree lines into exclusive public trees. It makes it easier and less confusing for everyone to view and search for people. I also admit to privatizing one of my trees because it is so incomplete and has errors. I am, however, not actively networking with others about those family lines.

What is the right thing to do here about tree privacy settings? Well, I guess some etiquette would best. If you have a private tree and start networking with others, don't hold back in your message to others or make your tree public for viewing, or both is wonderful. I am all for more information.

Like I've said in another post, networking and getting help from others is definitely the way to succeed in your family tree search plus it can be so much fun to meet new people and relatives. So share what you can!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Networking and Message Boards on

When I initially joined, I did not fully make use of all of their networking tools. I had peeked at their message board system and found it to have way too much information posted in a rather unmanageable, unsearchable way. I skipped it for the time being.

Now, "member connect" on the other hand, I've been trying to utilize that since I spotted it on individuals on my tree. It's a great way to connect your tree into another without using the "hints" on Ancestry. In fact, there may not be a "hint" but member connect may show another tree with matching information. I try to take advantage of all hints including emailing those who appear to have family in common with me. I am cautious on those "hints" because they are not always correct information or even a match to my family.

About a month into to my subscription, I decided to start using the message board. I made posts about my family surnames. I have networked with a few people but for the most part it is not my first choice to network on Ancestry. That is something that could use some improvement.

I've also used another area within Ancestry to search for those seeking the same surnames. Under "My Account", "Edit Your Profile", "Research Interests", I've clicked on the little pencil to edit my interests. I had been using this area to search for those with common surname interests by clicking on one of my surnames. It looks like right now it has been disabled. I did find this was a great way to network but it looks like no more.

So how do you effectively network on Well, it keeps changing for me. I do wish Ancestry would improve their methods of networking and manage the message board more effectively.

I'll admit that I am a real go-getter when it comes to networking online. I do recognize appropriate etiquette, of course. Networking does produce results in researching your family tree. I have found that out with awesome results in some cases. One can't really do it on their own.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Gartlan with a "D"? You tell me.

James McLaughlin married Mary Ellen Gartlan on January 6, 1838, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Newport, Herkimer County, New York. I also have a Hugh Gartlan marrying Mary McLauglin on November 28, 1850, at St. Patrick's Church, Newport, Herkimer County, New York. Were they all related? You bet! Mary Ellen and Hugh Gartlan appear to have been brother and sister. Their parent's were James Gartlan and Hannah Fox. James and Mary McLaughlin were cousins. It's kind of funny how that works out. Irish marrying Irish in an Irish Settlement in upstate New York was not uncommon. Also, it didn't hurt that they were all Roman Catholic. So enough said about that....My real issue here is it "Gartlan" or "Gartland"? Well, maybe it's both.

I have come across a limited number of individuals on Ancestry who appear to link into my family tree under my Gartlan line. However, they spell the last name as Gartland. I had a person indicate to me that they did not think we were connected despite some overwhelming information. Really?! Maybe they're correct. I did not spend a lot of time analyzing their tree. I could have sworn that I found them in Herkimer County, New York. I could be wrong and really need to get back into my Gartlan line to look more carefully.

I have created a public family tree on Ancestry for my Gartland with a "D" family tree with 28 people. I deliberately limited the McLaughlin's on the tree to see if I could find connections for the Gartland's with a "D". I found one rather confused person who appears to have over 10,000 people on their tree and can't find where they have Gartland's "tree'd". (By the way, I use "tree" as a verb, adjective, adverb, and noun. How about "tree'd", "tree'ing", or "tree"? I particularly enjoy, "Why does this person tree this way?." I digress.) But for 10,000 people I highly recommend breaking down your tree into specific family lines. Plus this individual said that the lines were all messed up in addition to being private. I'm not sure that they realize their privacy settings are set as such but they are "penlu". Hey "penlu", sorry to call you out in my blog but I'm really making a "shout out". Maybe I can help you or at least help you work through what you have without recreating the wheel!

My supposition here is that Gartlan sounded like Gartland and, thus, over time became Gartland. There were definitely some great census transcribers in the early 1800s that did preserve the name of Gartlan in the various Census. I applaud them. I am also assuming that they spelled the name correctly.

So...I remain at that point of if it is Gartlan or Gartland. Oh but wait a minute, I found Gartlan's in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, Ireland. No "D" on the end of the last name. Let's further explore that I have some notes that my James Gartlan was born 1777 in Carrickmacross.

In our great melting pot of the USA, can you imagine a surname being changed or simply obscured? Of course! I love Disneyland but can you imagine it spelled Disneylan? I think someone must have said, "Let's just add that 'd' on the end to make it look better".

Friday, June 25, 2010

Inviting People to Follow My Blog

Recently I sent invites to my known family and my cyber family to follow my blog. I also invited a few friends. I currently have 3 followers, one of which is me. I guess I was hoping for more. My goal with this blog is to network and provide some relevant information for those who work on their family trees but also are connected to my family tree. I'm not sure if people are reading this. I hope some family does read it and makes comments.

Some upcoming items that I will write about include "The Waiting Game" (Waiting for New York State to send me marriage certificates!), information about the Irish Settlement in Herkimer County, New York, and other topics that come up as I populate my tree into

I have found so many people via Member Connect on and am hoping to discuss and review our family trees. Maybe we can pool our resources and push on past the 1700s on some of our family lines. That is my wish anyway!

My Family Surnames

So every couple of posts, I plan to put this list of my surnames out here to keep the momentum going. Feel free to let me know if any of the names strike a chord.

1. Flanagan - Co. Louth, Ireland; Napa, California; Corning, California

2. McLaughlin - Ringowney, Parish of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York; Austin and Grass Valley, Lander County, Nevada; Napa, California

3. Maxwell - Shancarnan, Parish of Moynalty, Co. Meath, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York; Austin and Grass Valley, Lander County, Nevada; Napa, California

4. Shaffrey - Dunshaughlin, Parish of Moynalty, Co. Meath, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

5. Gartlan - Co. Monaghan, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

6. Fox - Co. Monaghan, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

7. O'Brien - Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, Ireland; Australia; Napa, California

8. Hickey - Whitegate, Co. Clare, Ireland; New York City (Greenwich Village)

9. Coughlin - Co. Clare, Ireland; New York City, Long Island, and Rye, New York

10. McGuire - Co. Fermanagh; New York City (Brooklyn, Greenwich Village) and Long Island, New York

11. Bellew - Co. Louth, Ireland

12. Kirwan - Co. Louth, Ireland

13. Campbell - Co. Louth, Ireland

14. Maguire - Co. Louth, Ireland

34 Page Document Part 2

WARNING - Later Posts may have more updated information and discoveries but it is best to read them in order.

While populating my Maxwell tree, I was also able to start populating my McLaughlin tree. Other people had input several McLaughlin's on Ancestry that linked to me. What helped was my Maxwell tree because there were two marriages between the families in Newport, New York. What wondrous things come from connecting with others on Let me tell you.....

My great-grandmother, Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin, had siblings, of course. Well I found a cousin. I found "simplygib" on Ancestry plugging away on his McLaughlin Tree. I emailed him and it turns out that he is a descendant of Mary's sister Anna McLaughlin. What came next was unexpected. Not only did he used to live nearby where I am in Sacramento and had recently moved north out of state (small world), he sent me this 34 page document detailing the descendants of Thomas McLaughlin. I don't just mean Mary and Anna's father either. It's back to the mid 1700s Thomas McLaughlin from Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, Ireland. George Capes was the researcher. I poked through "the box" that my mom had brought to me and found a letter that George Capes had written to my grandparents in Napa asking about the family line in 1990. They had apparently corresponded with him at least on one or two occasions. This was just more proof that this is my family tree line.

I have to admit that between my Flanagan and my McLaughlin/Maxwell family tree lines, I have found so much information in the matter of 2 1/2 months. The more I research just a little bit, the more I find up my mom's side. My Flanagan tree has 331 people and my McLaughlin/Maxwell Tree has 558 people. I have those trees separated out because it is so hard to manage them and be accurate with them combined.

Anyway, I am on page 16 of my detailed review of that 34 page document. I have more people to add to my McLaughlin/Maxwell tree from it. I've emailed some individuals plugging away on Ancestry that connect into this line with some interesting responses. I think some people work on their tree here and there. I'm trying to be consistent and open to networking with other relatives. I have to thank "simplygib" and "JPMaxwell" for all of their assistance. I'd love to talk to George Capes. I wonder if he is still around. He's on the document and I think he is my mom's age so he probably is. I have a big thank you for him!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The State of New York - Vital Records

WARNING - Later Posts may have more updated information and discoveries but it is best to read them in order.

Are they kidding? A five month or more wait for two marriage certificates for people who were married in 1903 and 1911. I have exact dates, names, places, and I even have the certificate number for one of them. The State of New York must be kidding. The health department’s site suggests that you try the local registrar for the specific municipality for a quicker turnaround. Rye, New York, tells you to contact the state. I bet you’ll never guess where the City of New York tells you the check. Yes, the State of New York in all of its bureaucracy is like any other state. By the way, I live in California so I certainly know about red tape and pushing things off to a much future date. Can you say “The California State Budget”?!

Here I wait for some glorious information about my McGuire’s, Romaine’s, Hickey’s, and Coughlin’s. Let’s hope the wait is worth it. I noticed that they have not cashed the check yet. Can you imagine the pile of requests that they receive? I bet they’d make a lot of money if they would just satisfy these requests and cash those checks. Please!

By the way, did you catch that I’ve hit a wall with my family surnames of McGuire, Romaine (pronounced Roman), Hickey, and Coughlin? I am still so ever hopeful and determined to find my Irish and maybe Dutch ancestors up these lines. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

34 Page Document "The Descendants of Thomas McLaughlin"

WARNING - Later Posts may have more updated information and discoveries but it is best to read them in order.

My Maxwell line has always been a bit of a mystery for my family as has been my McLaughlin family line. I knew that my great-grandmother, Mary McLaughlin, was born in Austin, NV in 1870, moved to Napa, CA, and married Jack Flanagan. I also had her father's name, Thomas McLaughlin but not much in the way of information beyond that. I started my search on that line in Napa, CA. I found Thomas and Ellen (Maxwell) McLaughlin living in the Salvador area of Napa. I wondered if I'd found the right people.

I found them in Austin, NV, too. Census information from those "hints" on Ancestry led me to the correct people. Also, there were not a lot of people living in Austin, NV, in the 1870s, although there are probably less now. It's considered a ghost town in Northern Nevada off Highway 50. Thank goodness I knew that my great-grandmother, Mary McLaughlin, went by the nickname of Minnie. I also knew some of her sibling's names but not much more. Oh, but I did have this hand written family tree that my sister had to do for school. It must have been in high school. There are no dates on the tree but there are names including last names. I found Ellen Maxwell on a passenger list as a young girl immigrating via Liverpool, England, from Ireland. I was not sure if it was her so I put it in my Ancestry "shoebox" for future reference. That "shoebox" is handy as it does not attach the document to anyone in particular plus you can get back to it without having to recreate the wheel of research.

As I was adding people to my McLaughlin/Maxwell line, I kept having a "JPMaxwell" tree pop up as a hint for my line. I peeked at his tree and wondered if they were my relatives. I had some doubt because, what were the chances? His tree was quite extensive including photos of Joseph Patrick Maxwell who emigrated from Ireland. I sent him a message over Ancestry. His response to me was that I was part of the long lost family who went west to Nevada and California. He also said that there was extensive history in Newport, New York for my McLaughlin's of which he is not related but knew of them. So maybe I am a doubting Thomas but I thought maybe..... I sent him a message back letting him know that I was going to ask my mom more about our Maxwell's and Mclaughlin's. (So seriously, at this point, wouldn't you bet it was true since we've got not just one side but both?)

Anyway, my mom came up to my house the next week and brought "the box" in which my grandma had been gathering information for years. She had collected information and documents for my Grandpa Flanagan's family. The majority of the contents of this large box are related to our Flanagan's. However, I found a manila folder in the box with McLaughlin written on it. The folder contains family worksheet pages for both McLaughlin and Maxwell. There are a few letters too. Apparently, the information originates from a few previous researchers - my Aunt Ellen Maxwell Flanagan, George Capes, and Thomas Malloy. Once I reviewed the family tree worksheets, I realized that Joseph Patrick Maxwell is my ancestor from Ireland. There was a worksheet in the box for him and Judith Shaffrey with their daughter, Ellen Maxwell plus all of the other children. What a find and we had the information all along. My mom admitted that she just never had the chance to look it over. How exciting! I reconnected with "JPMaxwell" and started populating and sourcing my tree.

Now, another interesting find came out of all of this. A location back east called the Irish Settlement in Newport, Herkimer County, New York, has proven itself as a link to the past for my family. More in the next post.....still need to get to that 34 page document!

Starting on

Back in April I got motivated by that NBC show to hop online and add my family tree. I had added 283 people in one day. With those "hints" circling around that little leaf next to several of the names I'd just entered, I had to subscribe. I so wanted to see those hints. I paid for a full year and the hints just kept coming.

Many of them came from my uncle's tree. He's been working on our Vienop and Borchers line for years. His tree kept popping up as hints for mine. I accepted all of them and used the member connect to get his attention. Sure enough, I got a phone call from him. By the way, he's not a stranger. We used to get together with that side of my family on every holiday up here in Northern California whether it was in Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood, or most importantly and frequently, Napa, CA. My uncle is pretty funny. He said that is not what he would recommend for maintaining a family tree but it has merit as a research tool. I had a former co-worker allude to this too. Anyway, he told me not all of the tree information on Ancestry is correct for our Vienop's and Borchers'. He's had to correct some information along the way. I've left what I have out there but have made that tree private for now. I need to get together with him to coordinate that family line. He's back further into the 1700s apparently and has been working on our Jackel (pronounced Yackel) family line this year. It should be interesting to see what he has for my German family.

The main line that I entered was Flanagan from previous information that I'd written down and from a digital photo that I'd taken from one page of the Flanagan's bound book located at their farm in Ireland. That family tree photo has so much information on it. If I did not have that digital photo, I would not have much of anything about the Flanagan's.

I separated out my Flanagan Tree online to make it as exclusive as possible to that Family line. There are over 330 people on that tree back to 1670. The Flanagan's in Ireland have access to the tree on Ancestry. They actually sent me a DVD from 2004 that has a PowerPoint on it discussing our specific Flanagan Family tree. The DVD was authored by a descendant who apparently works for the Irish government on genealogy type projects. I so want to talk to Donald Murphy! I'm sure he's a very busy person. The DVD has a PowerPoint presentation that includes a discussion about it in the background. It's fascinating to sit and watch the DVD, listen, take notes, and review my family tree at the same time. There are some very interesting facts on that DVD that I did not know. It is long least 2 hours. There are some pictures on the DVD including one of my great-great-grandfather, Patrick Flanagan, who emigrated from Ireland via Australia/New Zealand to Napa, CA.

The information that I have about the Flanagan's is quite a lot including letters and other documents plus that DVD. I decided to focus on some of my other lines in April. My husband reminded me that I would probably not have a similar experience with the level of detail and information that I have for the Flanagan's. I started to get my mind set with some realistic expectations.

And then.......My hubby was wrong, at least on one of my other time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where to begin with all of those Surnames...?

I'm not sure where to begin with all of those family surnames. I am wondering how much information to post and who might be reading looking for this info. I guess I will try and blog this information in spurts. I have some interesting information and yet probably have some very boring information. How can I make my own genealogy interesting for others to read? I'm working on it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Family Surnames

Another post so soon? Yes, I've decided to put my Irish family surnames out here with the locations stateside and in Ireland where I know they lived.

1. Flanagan - Co. Louth, Ireland; Napa, California; Corning, California

2. McLaughlin - Ringowney, Parish of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York; Austin and Grass Valley, Lander County, Nevada; Napa, California

3. Maxwell - Shancarnan, Parish of Moynalty, Co. Meath, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York; Austin and Grass Valley, Lander County, Nevada; Napa, California

4. Shaffrey - Dunshaughlin, Parish of Moynalty, Co. Meath, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

5. Gartlan - Co. Monaghan, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

6. Fox - Co. Monaghan, Ireland; Newport, Herkimer County, New York

7. O'Brien - Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, Ireland; Australia; Napa, California

8. Hickey - Whitegate, Co. Clare, Ireland; New York City (Greenwich Village)

9. Coughlin - Co. Clare, Ireland; New York City, Long Island, and Rye, New York

10. McGuire - Co. Fermanagh; New York City (Brooklyn, Greenwich Village) and Long Island, New York

11. Bellew - Co. Louth, Ireland

12. Kirwan - Co. Louth, Ireland

13. Campbell - Co. Louth, Ireland

14. Maguire - Co. Louth, Ireland

Do you see a pattern of sorts? I'm a little Irish but there are a lot of family names from the same locations or who ended up in the same locations stateside. Yes, they followed each other. The Newport, New York location should bring some questions from people, I hope.

Around the early 1800s, many Irish immigrants came through Canada and ended up in what is known as the "Irish Settlement" in Newport, Herkimer County, New York. It is fascinating and I think that I've only touched on the tip of the iceberg in finding out what life was like in this location. I have a full tree of McLaughlins and Maxwells. My Gartlan's, Fox's, and Shaffrey's fit in there too.

I also have Irish family names of McManus, McGrath and Byrne. I have little to no information about those names.

My other non Irish family surnames are Romaine (pronounced Roman), Vienop, Borchers, Koch, Jackel (pronounced Yackel), and many more German names.

People not interested in Genealogy

So where you came from, or rather who you came from, can explain a lot about you. While your immediate family unit has the most influence over you while growing up and moving into adulthood, those extended family members are usually involved too. I have come across people who are not interested in their family tree because of past experiences with their immediate family unit and extended family. When bad things happen within the family, sometimes people shy away from their relatives. I can only imagine how people feel when multiple catastrophic or even uncomfortable events occur. I do say that exploring your family tree is a personal choice. If you explore back far enough and then drop down into cousins and other relatives, you may actually find some distant cousins that you do want to be around.

Adoption; now, that can be a different story, especially if you are the child of a parent who was adopted. That does make it hard to trace that line in your genealogy but hopefully not all lines. I do know someone who was adopted and as an adult she found her real parents. She has been able to find out why she was put up for adoption, their medical history, and actually build a relationship with them. That is amazing to me and wonderful. Her adoptive parents are still her "real parents" by the way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Researching the World on

So as I was saying in my last post......Searching the world for family within the deluxe version of is challenging. While searching stateside has proven to be exceedingly easy, looking for ancestors outside of the USA on appears to be futile. I have an extensive Irish family history on both sides of my family. I've yet to find my Irish families living in Ireland on Ancestry. Their webinar about finding your Irish roots in Ireland does lead me to believe that Ancestry does not think that they can get to that information either. I've given them constructive, polite feedback. I have no idea if they have read it as they don't let you know with a reply. All I can figure is that Ancestry is so overwhelmed with new customers right now as a result of that NBC show "Who Do You Think You Are?", that they can't respond.

I have found limited information online via Griffith's Valuation and various Google searches using the family last name and location in Ireland where I know they are from. I've found a little bit of information. I've had lots of helpful people offering suggestions as to how to research my family by using the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census or the 1864 Griffith's Valuation. The catch for me is that I'm back further than these dates. I have one family line back to 1670 in Co. Louth. That is an exception situation since most people would not have such great resources. The family is still there in Co. Louth and maintain the private family records. I must say though, they have shared these records time and time again with historical societies and researchers. The next time I communicate with them, I will need to ask them if the records have been shared with the Irish Archives. Now, that is somewhere needs to be connected!

At any rate, I am currently stuck when it comes to researching most of my lines including the Flanagan's in Co. Louth back to the 1670's. It's tough communicating long distance via email when they may not read their email very often. Plus the family genealogy may not be their first priority. At least I know that the Flanagan's enjoy discussing the topic. Then there's people who are just not interested in genealogy. post......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just like the Google search engine, is "the" search engine and research tool for genealogy. At least it's the most popular. I have to admit that I completely agree that searching for United States records for those individuals and family members who immigrated and lived in the U.S. is made so easy on Ancestry. I have had no problem finding relatives in a Census (at least one or two out of three year's worth of census). Sometime names are spelled completely wrong and that may throw the whole search off but then I'll try another year census and find the family and/or individual. Searching in NYC specifically has posed many challenges. I'm not always thrilled with the result but that's because there are so many Patrick Hickey's and Frank McGuire's for the timeframe that I'm searching. I suppose NYC was the most populated location in the U.S. circa 1870-1880.

So Ancestry is all that!? Well, maybe it is. I have had challenges searching using the world version. More in my next post.......

Monday, June 14, 2010

It begins with where you came from.

It begins with where you came from. Right? Well sure. You came from your parents after all. Where did they come from? The simple answer might be "their parents". As we all know this builds on itself and follows a line backward in time. The line also splits off to others, creating more branches. I suppose that's why it's called a Family Tree. Genealogy is more than that. In my opinion, it is the network of family histories that builds on each other. It can allow us to discover our national origins and others who are distantly, or not so distantly, related to us.

I am seeking to discover not just my family tree but a network of family who may be scattered across the United States and beyond, or who might be living in my neighborhood. Sometimes it disappoints me how family can lose touch over time. In another instant, I start to think about my own situation and how "busy, busy, busy" I am in my daily life. I run out of time to keep in touch, I suppose. Or is it a choice? Personalities can sometimes interfere as can life's experiences some of which are not so kind. They can really split up a family despite individual's best efforts to remain close. I see that in my own family line going back and find that some days I am confronted with it in my own expanded family dynamic.

Anyway, I thought I'd start a blog of sorts about genealogy called "Mine, Yours', and the Other Guy's Genealogy". I've been working on my family tree off and on since about 1990. In the past, whenever I had an opportunity to grab onto to some information, I took it. At the age of 19, I recall sitting at my grandparents dining room table in Long Island, New York, asking them about their parents and on up the line. I wrote the information down as quickly as I could on one sheet of paper. I remember my grandmother correcting my granddad on facts of his family line. It was pretty funny to witness. They knew each other very well along with all of those family members which they really weren't in contact with any longer. For various reasons, everyone seemed to have gone their own way. Maybe some individuals or families moved away, passed away, or just got "busy, busy, busy".

My mother recently gave me the sheet that she'd held onto for the past 20 years. It had some definite "hints" on it that I'd forgotten. I only wished that I'd asked for more information and written more down. On that day in the summer of 1990, I did receive a gift though......a gift of finding out where my dad came from. At least it was a start.