ANNUAL END-OF-YEAR GENEALOGY GOALS REVIEW

I can only describe 2021 as a roller coaster year. Dips and climbs, moving slow then all too fast. Some parts smooth and other parts terrifying. Earlier this year, I told you why I reset my genealogy priorities. In this post, I briefly retell that story and evaluate progress on my original set of goals for this year.

In March, 2021, I was diagnosed with amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years. I frantically worked on the article about my mother’s German ancestors which I submitted in July.  Using principles learned in Genealogy Do-Over, I began a complete and thorough re-organization of all things genealogical. I didn’t realize how many duplicate files and pieces of information were scattered all over my computer.  Digital file reorganization is 95% done.

Now, I need to evaluate my original genealogy goals for 2021.

Susan’s 2021 Genealogy Goals

Posten-Richards family (dad’s family)

  1. Revise at least 4 chapters of Posten family history book. Explore publication options. (One chapter done in 2018; one chapter rewritten in 2020). *Priority item for 2021—rewrote one chapter. Consider as priority for 2022?
  2. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches. Parents of Benjamin Avery Posten; results posted on blog.
  3. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings. Done.

Tucker-Maurer family (mom’s family):

  1. Complete descendant list for Smetts-Maurer family as requested by cousin. Done- Feb 2021
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings. Done
  3. Follow-up on at least one BSO generated from previous searches. Done- Rosina Smetts & Henry Renk

Ellerbee-Simmons/ Johnson-Reed (husband’s family)

  1. Scan original documents in paper files. Place originals in archival sleeves and appropriate notebook.  Ongoing.
  2. Review and clean paper & digital files for at least 2 direct ancestors and their siblings in each family group. Partially met – one ancestor and siblings in each family group.
  3. Create family group records with citations as addendums to scrapbooks given 2019 & 2020 for at least 4 family groups. . NOT DONE.
  4. Continue to trace descendants of slaves owned by husband’s ancestors. Use templates and directions from the Beyond Kin project. NOT DONE- LEAVE FOR OTHERS TO DO.
  5. Follow-up on at least two BSOs generated from previous searches (one from each family group).  Johnson family- Barbara Friddle Reed.

Genealogy Blog:

  1. Post on regular basis, optimally every 2 weeks. Posted every 2-3 weeks.
  2. Post at least 2 stories about each family—Posten-Richards (dad), Tucker-Maurer (mom), Ellerbee-Simmons (father-in-law), Johnson-Reed (mother-in-law). Partially met – 3  for Posten, 2 for Tucker, 1 for Ellerbee, 6 for Johnson.
  3. Limit each post to about 1500 words or less. Done consistently
  4. Purchase or download software to post GEDCOM family tree. Post at least 2 family trees to blog. (continued from 2019). NOT DONE.
  5. Continue to address Genealogical Proof Standard in reports. Done ABOUT 50% OF TIME.
  6.  

General items:

  1. Continue to place To-Do/ BSO items and questions for each family on color-coded file cards. Not done due to loss of function w/ right hand. How to track these in future?
  2. Send for at least 4 BMD certificates. DONE – DCs: Anna Klee Maurer, Stephen Scheffel, Edward Louis Maurer, Leonhard Maurer,; Maria Anna Metzger Maurer, Emma Lizzie Maurer, Anna Kolzelius Maurer,  BCs: William Charles Maurer, Herman Maurer. MCs: Arthur Maurer & Johanna Dassow, Leonhard Maurer & Crescentia Ley, Herman Maurer & Elizabeth Bailer.
  3. Submit article begun in 2020 to a local genealogical society for publication in their newsletter.  Specific family/ person TBA. Done July 2021- Maurer family. Not accepted but excellent feedback from editor
  4. Add to Research Toolbox:  books “Dating Vintage Photographs” ; possibly Dragon software. Bought Kindle books- Planning a future for your family’s past by Marion Burk Wood and After You’re Gone: Future proofing your genealogy research by Thomas MacEntee. Both offer good suggestions.  
  5. Enroll in at least one genealogy-related webinar or online class, topic to be determined.  GOAL MET. American Ancestors writing course Jan 2021; Seven things to know about German Church Records, February 2021; Pennsylvania Launching Pads into the Midwest, 14 Sept 2021; RootsMagic 8 overview 8 Oct 2021.

 Items Added:

  1. Duplicate Ellerbee-Simmons scrapbooks for Jason & Deanna. Ellerbee family scrapbooks in progress.
  2. Change from RootsMagic7 to RootsMagic8.  Change selected files to RM8 format, including copy of media files & relink to new media file:
    • Jerry Donald Ellerbee-DONE
    • George Avery Posten/ Cornelius Posten-DONE
    • Johnson-Reed
    • Posten-Richards
    • Tucker-Maurer
    • Others?
  3. Genealogy legacy planning:
    • Create single folder, “GENEALOGY REORGANIZATION FILES 2020” on personal computer. done
    • Reorganize digital files by family: Ellerbee-Simmons, Johnson-Reed, Posten-Richards, Tucker-Maurer, with standard subfolders under each heading.  Done
    • Move all genealogy files to appropriate location under GENEALOGY REORGANIZATION 2020. DONE
    • After moving RM files, recheck and relink media as needed.
    • Inventory all genealogy materials (paper files, digital files, websites, books and hard copy items, photographs, etc.). Review every 6 months. Designate place for print copy of inventory. Initial inventory done.

What about the budget?

Once more, a little over. For next year? Set specific priorities and reformat goal structure.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Genealogy priorities & short life expectancy

How would your genealogy goals change if you only had two years to live? What kind of genealogy legacy will you leave? This is what now confronts me as I have been diagnosed with a progressive neurologic disorder and a life expectancy of 2 to 5 years.

 Thirty years ago, my goal was to find all original immigrants. On my dad’s side, one immigrant, Anthony Desire LaCoe/LeCoq (1778, France – 1883, Pennsylvania) was identified by others. Mom’s oral history suggested, and since been confirmed, one immigrant, Valentine Maurer (1800, Germany – 1898, New York). Immigrant origins for my husband’s family remain speculative as British with Scandinavian roots have been  identified through DNA. My research identified one more on dad’s side (surname Ostrander from Holland) and one on mom’s side (surname Traver from Germany).  Another researcher discovered a French ancestor, surname Fayard, for my father-in-law. For my mother-in-law, a German ancestor with last name Krueger/ Creager seems likely. So, six immigrants out of at least 32 family lines.

 Now, given time constraints, I have to focus on more realistic goals.  My legacy plan now includes leaving more copies of each scrapbook, especially the paper scrapbooks.  Two copies of Ellerbee-Simmons books exist, i.e. the original and copies given to Papaw’s sister in July 2019.  Two copies of Johnson-Reed scrapbook exist, i.e. original and copy given to sister-in-law last year.

I have two print copies of the Posten narrative history written in 2012, with all of its flaws. But, the framework is there.  Five relatives received copies of this document. Digital copies of all reside on my computer and are saved to the Cloud.

 I focus again on the paper scrapbooks with these new goals for the rest of this year: 

  1. Make two copies of the Ellerbee- Simmons scrapbooks. One copy for sister- in- law and one copy for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with  my oldest son.
  2. Make one copy of the Johnson -Reed scrapbook for youngest son. Original scrapbook stays with my oldest son.

In previous post, I outlined the specific steps needed before re-submitting article about mom’s family. Similarly,  goals for the paper scrapbooks require specific steps:

  1. Buy five 12×12-inch scrapbooks from local hobby/craft store. Wait for a sale! Prefer scrapbooks that come with 25-50 plastic sleeves.
  2. Buy additional archival quality plastic sleeves as needed.
  3. Buy 1 ream acid-free white paper from office supply store.
  4. Choose dominant color or decorative theme for each scrapbook.
  5. List sections for each scrapbook. Choose one design for the section dividers.
  6. Use personal scrapbook supplies (paper, labels, stickers, decorations, etc.) before buying more. FYI: I have 8 boxes and numerous pads of paper, lots of themed decorations.
  7. Enlist husband’s help as needed with cutting out designs.

My next goal –  create scrapbook/ memory book of Tucker-Maurer family including photos and documents. As of today, my plan is to use  a book format,  then print professionally. I created a short (20 page) version for my brother two years ago. This version includes more information.

Specific steps include:

  1. Outline specific information, such as family group sheets, to be included.
  2. Review blog posts; revise posts as needed and use in this memory book.
  3. Write family/ individual stories as needed.

I discussed all of this with my husband. He asked, “How important is it, really, to get published in a genealogic journal?” I submitted one article and received appropriate feedback from the editor. I will continue to collect birth, death and marriage certificates for that family line.  Those acquisitions strengthen my legacy. However, I also accept that I may not have time to fully address genealogic standards as required by the journal. I can continue to publish via my blog.

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster. Rethinking my genealogic priorities is only one thing that we have to do. I cannot say enough how much I appreciate my husband and sons. FYI- yes, I have begun the process of getting my genealogical files and items in order. More about that later.

As I work on preservation rather than expansion, the character of my blog posts may change. There are many family stories to tell within the boundaries of my current work.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and  Posting Family Roots blog, 2021

Of laptops and laundry: A light-hearted look at things that interfere with genealogy

Do you remember this poem? I embraced this idea when the boys were small. Now, those babies are grown and out on their own. I retired from work outside of the home in 2016. Genealogy is now my 40+ hours per week job although my husband sometimes says it’s more of an obsession. I need to remember that genealogy DOES keep! Especially, if you have thorough, complete records of your efforts. 

My 10-year-old laptop died a few weeks ago. That event certainly interfered with my genealogy work.   In January 2017, I accepted the reality of disorganized paper and digital genealogy files. I resolved to correct the situation. That’s when I discovered Thomas MacAntee’s Genealogy Do-Over program. [1]  One step is “securing research data.” I followed directions and began routine backups.  Daily data and image backups on the cloud and weekly backups to an external hard drive. Last year, I began monthly backups of all laptop files (not just the genealogy files) to the external hard drive.  These activities resulted in minimum loss of data when my laptop died.

I knew that the laptop’s days were numbered. Laptop’s response time gradually slowed.  My son offered to build a desktop computer for me. We planned for the new computer to be functional before laptop died. Oh, well!  Only one loss found so far – bookmarks to websites. Remedies:  Sync bookmarks with another computer. Periodically save bookmarks to HTML file; store file on Cloud, flash drive and/or  external hard drive.  

We bought a Surface Pro notebook computer in 2017. The purpose was twofold:  (1) Don’t take laptop with personal information on a genealogy field trip.  (2) Take pictures with notebook rather than a camera. Pictures didn’t need to be downloaded from camera to computer.  My husband became an excellent photographer of gravestones! Although there was a lot of perceived ‘junk’ on old laptop, we decided to use the Surface notebook minimally. The Surface became my lifeline while son built desktop computer.  Desktop is now up and running!

Which brings me to another thing that interferes with genealogy – laundry (and other housework).  There are always 2-3 loads of laundry to be done.  Buzzers on washer and dryer alert me to step away from the genealogy work (usually on the computer) for a few minutes. Actually, not such a bad thing! Cleaning house has never been one of my favorite jobs. I describe myself as a ‘laissez-faire’ housekeeper—the house doesn’t have to be completely dust-free and spotless clean.  I live by this motto:  “My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy.”  Everything does get cleaned, just not every day!

And, there is the issue of food! My family is always appreciative when I cook. Sometimes, I resort to my “meal prepared and on the table in 30-45 minutes” mode that was common when I worked outside of the home. One advantage of retirement is that I can now prepare those ‘’week-end only when I have lots of time” meals on a weekday. Of course, there are still the “what do you want from take-out” days and “let’s get a pizza” days.  Grocery shopping and meal prep also mean that I put the genealogy aside for various time periods.

Genealogy does keep! But only if you have complete, thorough records of the data and your analysis. Document everything you do, then save it in more than one way.

Try this mantra:  

      Records searched and dutifully filed. 
      Data reviewed and analysis writ down.    
      Media saved, backup plan in effect, files are in order.  
      More Genealogy will keep till tomorrow. 
     (Unless, of course, you just found that elusive person or item 
       that answers one question but generates more!)  

Reflection:

I had to get out of serious genealogy work for a bit. I have been getting bogged down with small details. The elusive ancestors from the early 1800s and late 1700s remain elusive. Oh, I have names, dates and places.  Questions remain:

  • Who is Thomas Ellerby’s father? Thomas bought land in North Carolina in 1724.  Candidates include Thomas, John, William and Edward Ellerby, all of whom were in Virginia circa 1683-1690.     
  • What is relationship between Thomas Ellerby, who moved from Virginia to South Carolina about 1737 and John Ellerby, who bought land in North Carolina in 1738? Both men owned property near the Pee Dee River which runs in both North and South Carolina.
  • John Ellerby died 1751 in Anson county, North Carolina. Is he ancestor of our John Ellerbee, born 1808 in Georgia and died 1884 in Florida?

The amount of work needed for do-over of Ellerbee family tree is overwhelming. Other projects beg for my attention. Solution? One project at a time. Work on each project at least once a week.

Temporarily put aside further review and searches for those early Ellerby/ Ellerbe/  Ellerbee ancestors.  I reviewed digital and paper files for John E. Ellerbee and his two wives, completed research logs and re-wrote citations to meet standards.  The same process is complete for four generations of Ellerbee men who are direct descendants of John E. Ellerbee plus 13 other persons. Scattered re-written source citations appear throughout my RootsMagic tree. Proposed work plan:

  • Wives of Ellerbee men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Ellerbee direct ancestors.
  • Simmons direct ancestors (father-in-law’s mother’s family).
  • Wives of Simmons men and their direct ancestors.
  • Siblings of Simmons direct ancestors.

Continue applying lessons learned in Genealogy Do-Over.


[1] Thomas MacAntee,  Genealogy Do-Over (https://genealogydoover.com/are-your-ready-for-the-genealogy-do-over/    :  accessed 7 October 2019).

Genealogy digital spring clean-up

Spring cleaning. Air out the house after months being closed up. Dust everything even baseboards and tops of cabinets that no one can see. Get rid of worn-out items and start fresh. I am running out of space on my 8-year-old laptop. My son deleted unnecessary program files accumulated over the years. Then, it was my turn for a serious look at everything else, especially genealogy files.

 

I started by moving most files to OneDrive, an online storage program that syncs with your computer.  Files can be online only or downloaded to your device but are also available online for viewing from other devices. You can identify files as “always available on this device”. Then, I looked for and deleted duplicate files and folders. Next, I backed up all files to external hard drive because I hadn’t done that in 2 months. Should I have done the external hard drive backup first??  Identifying older and rarely used files as “online storage only” seemed like the next logical step.

I queried Google how to move files from hard drive to online only. One advice column mentioned that deleting a file from hard drive would still preserve it online. Other message boards seemed to support the same action.  So, I began the process of deleting some files from PC hard drive.  When I clicked on “Delete”, a message popped up that file would be permanently deleted from PC hard drive but would still be available online.  I  deleted a few files from OneDrive online.

The next day, I had an email alert from OneDrive – (paraphrased) “we noticed that you have deleted a lot of files. These deleted files will remain in the Recycle Bin for 30 days then be permanently deleted from your OneDrive files.”  PANIC!!  I DON’T WANT TO PERMANENTLY DELETE THE FILES FROM ONEDRIVE ONLINE ACCOUNT!!

Calm down a little! I do have the files backed up on external hard drive. I use multiple devices and do not always have external hard drive with me. Doubtful that I will need any of these older files when I am away from home and the online program is part of my backup plan.  Daily emails with OneDrive support team ensued.  Their first response was basically a standardized answer that made little sense to me as a person who is not fluent in tech jargon. Five days later, we may have answers.

First, my primary computer was not synced with OneDrive online files. Not sure why or when that happened. A link to a program upgrade fixed that issue. Second, some files still show a sync issue with an error message – “You already have a file or folder with this name in the same location.”  Suggested fix is to rename item on either PC or online to keep both. Another option is to delete version on PC to download the online version.  That seems to work well for individual files and not so well for folders.  I am still scared that those files will disappear completely from both PC and OneDrive.

Some files are readily available online and easily accessed from my PC, just like files that I save only to PC hard drive. When I open these files, the dropdown menu includes an option to “Free up space”. This option moves the file to online only access and frees up space on hard drive. This is the option that I should have been using instead of deleting files from hard drive.  Restart main PC.  More or less space on PC? At the time of this post, I have more space on main PC.

Will some of those files that I deleted earlier still disappear from OneDrive online? Support tech said “Yes”. I’ll let you know in 30 days!

FYI—I started Genealogy Do-Over in 2017. Renaming files is one task. How many “1880 United States Census (4)” transferred with GED files from Ancestry? One in each family tree. I keep each family line in a separate tree. My spring clean-up revealed multiple files with same name, such as “img_004” in various folders. I also found complete folders saved as subfolders under other folders. Example: Gravestone pictures from our 2017 Pennsylvania trip were saved under 3 different folders!!  Fear of losing information led to a hoarding-type situation! As a result, I sometimes couldn’t find specific items. Hmm, genealogy hoarding disorder??

A backup plan is essential to prevent loss of your work.  Create a plan and stick with it at regularly scheduled intervals. Test plan on a small dataset and include a restore test.

 Thomas MacAntee suggests a 3-2-1 plan:  [1]

  • “At least 3 different backups.” Personally, I use cloud, external harddrive, and personal computer. Personal computer may not reliable as a backup.
  • “Use 2 different media for backup.”
  • “At least 1 backup must be offsite, and away from the original source computer.” Use of the Cloud is one example.  

So, the work continues.

reflection-swirl-green-color-hi

REFLECTION

This has been a difficult week. A family emergency took me away from home for 8 days. The email notice about files potentially disappearing only increased my stress. Fortunately, I had internet access and could correspond daily with OneDrive Support staff.  I didn’t have access to my primary PC so I couldn’t try any of the suggested fixes until I got home.  I still don’t know if those ‘deleted’ files will actually disappear from OneDrive online.

What I learned:  Don’t follow advice of only one person. Read all instructions about program or service carefully.  When in doubt, contact Support Team. Follow 3-2-1 back up plan on regular basis. 

What helped: A very patient tech who responded with non-technical terms when I kept asking the same questions. Remembering that I had multiple backups of all files in more than one location. 

What didn’t help:  Being away from home and primary computer.  Initial sense of panic.

To-Do:  Continue process of using ‘free up space’ option on primary computer to move older and rarely used files to ‘online only’.  Check that each file is on external hard drive and another Cloud location before using ‘free up space’ option.  Buy new primary computer!

For more information about Microsoft OneDrive, watch this video:

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots 2019

 


[1] Thomas MacAntee, The Genealogy Do-Over Workbook  (Hack Genealogy : 2019),  Step 12. Securing Research Data, 59-60; digital images, PDF version.