Don’t forget your records!

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Ancestry Mistakes; Why you need to STOP! randomly e-mailing cousins…today.

pexels-photo-313690

One of the most frequented topics I see in the Ancestry forums is people who are very frustrated with the lack of response to their emails though the ancestry mail system. Many users feel that if they e-mail someone and don’t get a response they are being disregarded or ignored and that this is THE ONLY way to break through those weak branches (I prefer weak branches to “brick walls” – it is a tree after all.)

Today I’m going to go over a few things about e-mailing on Ancestry and cover my key tips that I use to maximize my communication on Ancestry. These methods help me connect with valuable cousins that can actually help me in my research and skip all together wasting time and energy randomly chasing cousins who don’t have the answers I am seeking.

If you are a serious family historian you know how valuable your time is and how frustrating it is to waste your time with little or no results. I have had a good response to my communication and have been able to connect with many cousins. So many kind cousins have helped me, given me clues or documents and we even have a large e-mail study group for one of our lines that has been active for nearly two years. This study group includes upwards of 20+ cousins including a DNA enthusiast and a cousin that has been researching the tree for over 30 years. These are the people YOU are seeking and NEED to find!

This is how I do it:

First off let’s talk about Ancestry’s email system. When you e-mail someone through the system that e-mail goes to two (that’s right – TWO!) places – to your Ancestry account email and to your direct email account linked to your Ancestry account (gmail, hotmail, etc.) You will get to read that email in both places!

COMMON QUESTION: “I am not getting responses to my emails? Why is this?”

POSSIBLE ANSWERS:
The person isn’t a paying subscriber to Ancestry.
The person can’t log in to their Ancestry account for various reasons (forgot password, wrong email, etc.)
The person has the ancestry emails/notifications going to the spam box or the trash or an old e-mail address.
The person took the Ancestry DNA test to get the ethnicity results; they aren’t interested in tree building.
The person took the Ancestry DNA test for another family member who is researching the tree; they aren’t interested in tree building.

Your DNA matches are going to increase exponentially over time as more people submit autosomal DNA tests. You don’t have time to sit down and compose lengthy e-mails to cousins that probably will not contact you back. Choose those you decide to e-mail wisely. What you say an how you say it will determine what kind of response you will receive. This brings me to my first two important tips:

TIP #1 – INCLUDE DIRECT EMAIL CONTACT IN ALL COMMUNICATION
If you are going to e-mail someone be sure to include your direct e-mail in the message. This helps the person you are contacting with better ability to get back to you even if they can’t access their ancestry account for whatever reason.


TIP #2 – DON’T EMAIL UNLESS YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC PURPOSE
The absolute worst e-mail you can write to someone is something along the lines of:

“We are a DNA match. One of my grandmothers was Sarah Smith. Do you know how we are related?”

This e-mail most likely will not get a reply because the person you are emailing may not even know who Sarah Smith is let alone how you are related. Too big a can of worms to try to unravel to figure out how to reply to that message.

A message that is much more defined with a specific question or point is most likely going to get you a better response. Something like:

“Hi – we show a DNA match. I am trying to locate information on Sarah Smith, my 3rd great grandmother (*include biographical info and dates here along with spouses and children if you have it). If you have any further information I would like to compare notes with you at your convenience. My direct email is: __________@gmail.com_.
Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!


My Third and Final Tip on this Post just might make your head spin! I have to say it twice to really drive it home, But here it is!!
You are simply going to STOP! E-mailing people randomly in search of needles in haystacks all together! (OK…take a deep breath – I know that is shocking!)

TIP #3 – STOP! Randomly e-mailing cousins!….JUST STOP!…NOW!
stop-shield-traffic-sign-road-sign-39080-1It is so time consuming to try to go through your DNA matches and look at other people’s trees to try to trace down someone who knows something more than you do about your research. It is also incredibly time consuming to sit down and map out a long message to someone on what you are looking for plus send it to the right person {**fingers crossed**}.

You can literally spend hours on trying to e-mail people for……crickets……or a message that comes in 18 months later saying “hmmm….I really don’t know that I have gotten THAT far with my research”.

I don’t know the scientific ratios of what the chances are that you WILL get a reply but at least it’s a 50/50 shot. Not good enough odds when you have a mountain of things to accomplish in researching history for the past few hundreds of years or so. [If you like to go back that far.]

AND NOW THE GOOD NEWS!!!! 3 STEPS TO SUCCESS!!

What you ARE GOING TO DO and (I recommend start today!) is the THREE following steps that will allow you to communicate with the entire Ancestry Universe 24/7 in your sleep. This tip has to do with one of the most underused and under appreciated tools on Ancestry but if you start using it properly your researching dreams may start to come true.

It requires some patience on the return but creates a way for you to communicate with anyone in Ancestry in several ways while narrowing down the people searching for the same things as you. With a little bit of tweaking to your tree you can sit back, keep searching for records, deciphering historical handwriting while you are waiting for those e-mails to come TO YOU!! If you follow these three steps you can successfully research, connect with cousins and find clues and answers  – without writing one single e-mail!

STEP 1: UPDATE YOUR ANCESTRY PROFILE PAGE: If you haven’t been to that page in a while, go there today and take a look at what people might see there. To find it go to the top right hand corner, click or hover over your name and this box will come up. Choose the first option “Your Profile”.

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    • Do you have some information on yourself? Does it look like you are an active researcher? Do you invite people to contact you?

 

    Do you have a nice quality profile pic? Avoid text and weird images here and tiny, fuzzy thumbnails. You can use something like a flower, a sunset, etc. but use a good quality image that catches your eye.

Screen Shot 2019-07-22 at 12.51.54 PMDo you have information about the lines you are searching or places in your tree where you would like to connect with more cousins? If not, update that information – that should be at the bottom of your profile page. You can add as much or as little as you want here – very valuable for people to check if you are working on the same lines.

    • Keep this account profile page informative, neat and tidy and UPDATE it as needed. People really do look at this information. Here is a screenshot of mine (in Beta mode).

 


STEP 2: MAKE A PUBLIC TREE! PLEASE!!
NOTE!! This does not have to be your “MASTER” working tree if you like a private tree. This does not have to be connected to your DNA results.

The honest truth is that you won’t get anywhere in Ancestry on things that you can’t break through unless you have a public tree. Someone might have a clue! – several times I have received clues from kind researchers who saw something in my public tree and they e-mailed me to give me more information where I needed it, some of them not even related to my lines but they saw something. One kind person sent me the immigration information for a grandfather that came through New Orleans that I never would have found!! You MUST have a public tree even if it is just your grandparents line. Put anyone in the public tree that you need more information on. Maybe it will be spotty but the goal here is to have the tree public so that you find more information.
*Remember anyone you put in the tree as “LIVING” will not be shown to others unless you share the tree and change the settings manually to allow someone to see the living people in your tree.


STEP 3: USE THE “WRITE A STORY” Feature in the GALLERY – A LOT!! Better than e-mail!
On every persons’ page in your tree you will find a top bar that looks like the following – {I’ll use my cousin Abe Lincoln for the example.}

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Click “Gallery” to go to the Gallery and under “ADD” on the top right corner select ” “+Create Story.”

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That will take you to this screen where you have the option to upload or write a story. Select “Write a Story” from this screen.

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The next screen that pops up is where you are going to write your “story” or what you would typically spend hours writing in e-mails.

***I want to point out especially the note about “the privacy of your stories is always protected”.  Using this “Create a Story” feature as an alternative to e-mailing ONLY works if you are using a public tree. This enables anyone in the Ancestry Universe to find your “Story”. You can add a story to a private tree but if you are seeking connection with cousins and DNA matches then it will not work because they can’t see your story.
*** (Go back to the previous paragraph and do Step #2 of this post – Make a Public Tree.)


TIPS for Writing a Story:
STORY TITLE – ALWAYS INCLUDE THE EXACT NAME/NAMES and DATES of the person in the story so it gets pulled up in the Search Query and not lost under some obscure title like “family history smith”. Use names, maiden names, dates, places, questions you need answered, places you are stuck etc. You can edit this story any time you want as you progress through your research. *Adding Dates here is also very helpful!!

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Be sure to include description, location, dates and most importantly “ADD ANOTHER PERSON” to this story.  This will automatically add it to other people in your tree, casting a much larger web to open the doors of communication than a few e-mails. Anyone you mention in the story should be added to the story.

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Why “Stories” are better than e-mails…
It adds the story to the public search query where it will be found under the “Search” engine and also will pop up into people’s tree hints (even while you’re sleeping!). Allows others to contact you via Ancestry or if you like you can include your direct e-mail in the story.

It allows other people to add the story to their trees and allows you to see who those people are thus narrowing down your search for cousins researching the same lines and it allows other people to comment on the story.

Unlimited amounts of Stories can be added to one person. Stories can be edited by the author at any time, stories remain until you take them down.

(Write a different story for things like “DNA matching/Descendants”, “Looking for records”, “Biography”, “Children of”,  – just be sure to include the Names in your story titles or they might never be found!)



Finally,  an example of what I write in my stories – Here is a needle in a haystack that I have been working on for over a year regarding a great grandfather. Notice how I tried to state the facts, names, dates, places and keep my “story” as brief as possible. I can now see who has added this to their tree giving me more clues as to who might know more about this guardianship or be researching this family….and I didn’t have to write one single e-mail!

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I hope you found this post helpful!
Please follow me for more Ancestry tips and leave a comment any time!

Posted in Ancestry Mistakes, ancestry.com, DNA Testing, family tree,, Tricks for Ancestry, User Tips Ancestry.com | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow the journey into my family tree

Posted in ancestry.com, free research, fun stuff, photos, public domain, public records | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Teel Obituary – One of My Favorites

maroon flower on top of brown book

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I read a lot of obituaries. So far this one is my all time favorite!

Elizabeth Teel (1814-1833)
5th Great Aunt.


Departed this life, on the 23rd of September in the 19th year of her age, Miss Elizabeth, only daughter of Captain Lewis and Malinda Martin Teel, near Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia.

   The writer of this notice is aware, that to bring to the mind of the reader all the happy feelings which the dying testimony of the deceased was calculated to produce, would prove a task utterly beyond his reach–because description from the ablest pen is faint when brought into comparison with the sweet and heart-cheering expressions of one whose soul was animated by the precious love of Jesus, giving praises to the dear Redeemer in a strain that could not fail to awaken the sensibility of the greatest infidel.  She was taken with bilious fever; and from the first of her illness, she seemed to have a foreboding of her dissolution–though she murmured not under the afflicting dispensation; but cried earnestly to the great Physician of Souls to have mercy upon her.  She felt she was a poor sinner and stood in need of the prayers of God’s people–believing that, in connection with her own, they would avail, and was not unmindful to call on all who professed religion that visited the house, to pray for her.  Her prayers were not in vain; her humble fervent petitions, reached the friend of sinners; from the most heart-rending picture of anguish of soul, she was in the twinkling of an eye transformed by the renewing of her heart, into the lively and happy cloud of God. Joy illuminated her countenance–a new song issued from her lips, even praises to the Most High.  She called on her dear parents, whose prayers had been poured out to God on her behalf, to help her praise her dear Redeemer, saying, “Oh, mama, this is my birthday by nature and by grace, and I thank the Lord for it–he has snatched me as a brand from the burning.  Oh that I had known how good the Lord is, I would have tried to found him before this.”  Prayer and praise seemed to fill her happy soul; praying for sinners; awfully warning the young, and all who visited her, to prepare to meet God; and for her much beloved uncle, her anxiety was intense. Indeed her happy soul knew no bounds nor limit for those whom she believed to be in their sins.  The day on which she died, she seemed to have an increased degree of love and praise.  As her mother passed, said she, “Oh, mama, come–I want you to help me talk about that good Jesus–O how precious is his name.”  She took a formal leave of her dear brothers, beseeching them to serve the Lord in the days of their youth–then kissing her dear parents, bidding them a long farewell.  She repeated the Lord’s Prayer:  “Oh,” says she, “father view the angels; they are waiting for me’ I cannot stay long.”  Then raising her hands towards heaven, shouting victory to the lamb who hath redeemed us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood , ___ and died. Reader, pause!  You, like Elizabeth, may soon cease to anuate the gay and domestic circles becoming ___ diseased.  Hear the admonition of the awful message; behold his approach, and repose under the cold clods of the grave!  What a change! Are you young, graceful in your form, and amiable in your manners!  She possessed these qualities in the bloom of youth, and the morning of her days.  Are you in affluence and ease!  So was she!  She knew not privation!  Are you surrounded by numerous friends, and a dear father and mother who bind you with a manifold cord to earth!  It was once so with her.  Do you look forward to a long life, usefulness and enjoyment!  So did she.  But are you willing to turn away from all these, as elusive vanities, and fly to that bourne from whence no traveiler hath returned, like she did!  Without Christ you cannot do this; you cannot die in peace; you cannot die in triumph.  But Elizabeth died in peace–in triumph–and she died in Christ.  Reader!  may our lot be like hers, that the precious name of Jesus my form the last accents that quiver on our pale and expiring lips, as on hers: even so let it be.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Bilious fever
was a medical diagnosis of fever associated with excessive bile or bilirubin in the blood stream and tissues, causing jaundice (a yellow color in the skin or sclera of the eye). The most common cause was malaria. Viral hepatitis and bacterial infections of the blood stream (sepsis) may have caused a few of the deaths reported as bilious fever.[1]
The term is obsolete and no longer used, but was used by medical practitioners in the 18th and 19th centuries for any fever that exhibited the symptom of nausea or vomiting in addition to an increase in internal body temperature and strong diarrhea, which were thought to arise from disorders of bile, the two types of which were two of the four humours of traditional Galenic medicine. It was often cited as a cause on death certificates.[2] United States President Abraham Lincoln‘s son William Wallace Lincoln was said to have died from bilious fever. Modern diagnoses for the same symptoms would include a wide range of conditions and infections.
Posted in Aiden Hall Plantation, Virginia, ancestry.com, family tree,, newspapers, obituaries, old diseases, public records, Teel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Technology for Old Photos!…Get those Films & Negatives!

If you’ve been around for at least three decades or if you have inherited old family photos you may be looking for an easy way to look at old negatives or films and a way to easily extract these old photos. Films will degrade and deteriorate over time so if you have films or negatives to preserve now is a great time to start.

I recently discovered there is a new technology for this and it’s so exciting! They have created a film scanner which allows you to do just these things! Imagine a little viewer that allows you to insert your negative and instantly digitize those old photos on film negatives. Kodak company has created this technology in the Kodak Digital Film Scanner which Converts 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8 and 8mm Film Negatives and Slides to JPEG On a Large Tilt Up 3.5 LCD and EasyLoad Film Inserts.


If you have old reel to reel films there is also a film scanner made by Wolverine which allows you to convert your reel to reel films to digital format.

To Digitize reel to reel films

Wolverine 8mm and Super 8 Film Reel Converter Scanner Converts Film into Digital Videos. Frame by Frame Scanning to Convert 3 inch and 5 inch 8mm Super 8 Film reels into 720P Digital format.

So dig out those old shoeboxes and get started on the next part of digitizing and preserving your old family films and photos!

Have fun!

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Happy Birthday – Abe Lincoln! My 3rd Cousin 6x removed

Posted in Civil War, family tree,, free research, National Archives, new york city library, public domain, u.s. presidents | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

February Cards of Yesteryear…

More great finds at the New York Public Library Collections!

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