What’s New: Map Your Ancestors (on Your Smart Phone)


The headline is from a blog posting last month on the FamilySearch blog at  https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/whats-map-ancestors/


What’s New: Map Your Ancestors

January 9, 2018 By Alison Ensign

You can map your ancestors on FamilySearch’s app.

I grew up hearing stories about my ancestors. As I learned the details of their lives, I wondered what it would be like to get a glimpse of their world. The Family Tree app recently added a feature that, in some cases, can help that become a reality by allowing you to map key events in your ancestors’ lives directly in the app.

Not too far from where I now live, I found my great-great-great-grandparents’ home using the addresses attached to their life events and memories on FamilySearch.org. I then searched Google Maps for the address to see if the home is still standing today, and I discovered that it is!

The following are pictures of the home. The top two were attached as memories to my family tree, the bottom left is the image I found on Google Maps, and the last photo is of my dad later visiting the home. While specific street addresses will not always be available, you never know what you’ll stumble on. Try mapping your ancestors with the Family Tree app to see what hidden treasures you can find!

Visit places your ancestors lived! Find places your ancestors lived!
How to visit your ancestor’s life events. Find and visit family history locations using the FamilySearch Tree app.

How It Works

Open the Family Tree app, tap More in the bottom right corner (iOS) or the top left corner (Android), and then tap “Map My Ancestors.” A map will then show you a 100-mile radius around your current location. Here’s what the icons on the map mean:

The blue pulsating dot (iOS) or the blue dot with a ring around it (Android) represents you.

People icons represent ancestors who lived in the area.

Blue icons with numbers represent multiple ancestors in the same location. Tap the icon to view the names of those ancestors. To exit the list, tap the x in the corner of the list.

Zoom in or out of the map to show fewer or more ancestors at a time. You can also tap the i icon to change the appearance of the map or to limit the number of ancestors you see by tapping “Show only direct line ancestors.”

View Specific People

To see the locations of events from a specific ancestor’s life on the map, tap that ancestor’s name or type their name in the search bar. Icons representing their life events will appear on the map along with a list of the events. Tap an event to learn more about it.

To open this same person-specific view from your ancestors’ page in Family Tree, tap one of their life events, and then tap the map that appears (iOS) or the map icon (Android).

Add Burial Locations

Add location information in Family Tree about your ancestors’ burial to view more events in the map and to ensure that the locations you see are accurate. If you know the name of the place where one of your ancestors was buried, open the tree, and select the ancestor in question. On the Details page, tap the burial event, and then tap Edit. Enter the name of the cemetery under Place. Finally, add an explanation for the change. Then tap Save.

Give It a Try

Explore the “Map My Ancestors” feature to discover places you can visit! Here are some instances where it might be particularly useful:

Find ancestors who lived near you. This map can make it easy to find nearby landmarks from your family history.

Plan a trip. Search the map by location to find some sentimental stops along the way. Trace your roots. Get a quick glance of where your ancestors came from around the world.

Download the app to try it out!

As I said, I downloaded the app to my iPhone 7 and was amazed at what is presented. Now I will have a map locating my ancestors with me wherever I go.


What Happens with DNA Test at MyHeritageDNA Explained


Concise explanations are good! MyHeritageDNA just sent me an email explaining what happens to a DNA sample in their lab. It is short and easy to understand, so I thought I would post it here:

A sneak peek into the MyHeritage DNA lab

Feb 3 (1 day ago)

Hi Wallace,‎

The DNA sample of [name of relative deleted by me for her privacy] is currently being processed in our CLIA-certified DNA lab.

Status: Sample received at the lab

We wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how the DNA gets processed at our lab.

Here is the process, step-by-step:

Our technicians inspect the sample and make sure it’s intact.

The DNA is extracted from the cells in the vial and amplified. In other words, we make copies of the DNA in order to make sure we have enough of it to analyze.

The DNA is placed on a custom-made DNA genotyping chip and heated to a high temperature so the DNA can attach itself to the chip (hybridization).

A computer reads the hybridized chips, producing the DNA data.

The DNA data goes through a rigorous review to ensure it meets our high quality standards.

The DNA data is uploaded to the MyHeritage website, where it is analyzed and matched, and the results are served to you!

Best regards,
The MyHeritage team

View a cool video showing the journey of a DNA sample through our lab.

This email was sent to facilitate your use of your family site on MyHeritage.

I’m looking forward to receiving the DNA test results in a few days and seeing if we can establish connections between my test subject and extended family members.

FinnFest USA Set for Tampere, Finland, in June


Have passport, will travel.

I have known since last fall that FinnFest 2018 would be held in Tampere, Finland. In fact, knowing this spurred me to acquire a USA passport.

Now, I have learned the dates: June 24-July 1.

The following note is posted on the FinnFest USA Facebook page:

It’s happening! FinnFest in Tampere June 24-July 1, 2018!
We are putting the final plans together with an exceptional program. There will be current and historical context, local tours and day trips, comfortable lodging, singing, dancing, pulla and sauna!
Registration will be up on the website with more information soon!

Photo courtesy of Visit Finland.

Tampere was selected to be the site of this event as it was the location of one of the key 1918 battles in the Civil War between the White Finns and Red Finns (Communists). Fortunately, the Whites won, thus avoiding Finland slipping into the sphere of influence of the emerging Soviet Union.

Wikipedia has a concise article on the Finnish Civil War.

As a side note, Tampere is about four hours drive from my paternal grandparents’ village of Vesanto. The town website is in Finnish, but since I use Google Chrome as my browser, it was automatically translated into English.

I have already been contacted by cousins in Finland wanting more details of when and where, etc.

“Love Never Dies” Leaves Cleveland


Yesterday was the last day of the Cleveland, Ohio, run for the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, “Love Never Dies.”

I didn’t attend any of the performances. It would have been way too sad for me to enjoy. Here’s why: my late wife, MJ, loved the smash hit, “Phantom of the Opera.” We saw it twice, once in Toronto in 1991 at what was known then as the  Pantages Theater, and then again in 1997 in one the touring versions to visit Cleveland. We enjoyed both very, very much.

At the Cleveland performance, MJ purchased the book of piano solos and played them so often that the book became dog-eared.

I remember MJ playing on her Yamaha grand piano each of the nine pieces in the book:

Think of Me
Angel of Music
The Phantom of the Opera
The Music of the Night
Prima Donna
All I Ask of You
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
The Point of No Return

Over the years, we also saw two other Webber productions: “Cats” in a road-show version in Cleveland and the movie version of “Evita.”  MJ also saw his “Sunset Boulevard” on Broadway. We listened to the soundtracks of many of Webber’s other musical creations but concluded that nothing could compare with “Phantom.”

Our family requested that a recording of the piano version of “Think of Me” be played for family and friends who gathered for MJ’s Celebration of Life ceremony on 6 Jun 2017 in Brecksville. It was a poignant moment, to say the least.

Happy Australia Day Today!


Today is Australia Day. It is the 230th anniversary of the arrival of several British ships in what became the port of Sydney, Australia, loaded with convicts from Great Britain. These were the first white settlers in the continent of Australia.

I don’t have any direct genealogical connection to Australia, but it does remind me of the party I attended at the annual meeting of the International Iron and Steel Institute on the Sydney Wharf in early October in 1990 (which was springtime there). Wow, has it been that long ago?

The iron and steel industry of Australia really laid out the welcome matt for steelmaking leaders attending from around the world. A feature of the evening was a three-screen audio-visual show (remember them?) portraying the first arrival of what would become known as convict ships. As the show was ending, fireworks were set off over Sydney Harbor; then there was plenty of food and drink.

As a result of meeting people on this trip and in my other travels as a trade magazine journalist, I have concluded that the Aussies are the people most like Americans. Well, of course, Canadians are like Americans also.

Anyway, happy Australian Day.

If you want to read up on this bit of history, Wikipedia  has a concise article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Day

What’s Up–Or Down–With Rootsweb?


Today, I checked — as I often do — for info on local genealogical group meetings on the Cleveland District Roundtable (CDRT) page on Rootsweb. I found as I have for several recent weeks that the CDRT page on Rootsweb was still “down.” What came up in its place was a “progress report” posted by Ancestry.com which hosts Rootsweb. Here is that report from The Rootsweb Team (note the latest update added a couple days ago):

We have been in the process of improving the site throughout 2017, and as a result of an issue we recently became aware of, we have taken the site offline while we work to resolve it. We take the security of our contributors and our viewers seriously. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but protecting our users’ personal information is our top priority.

Update: January 23, 2018

Great news on the progress of getting RootsWeb back online. Today, we are bringing WorldConnect, one of our most valued features, back online. As we make WorldConnect available, it will initially be in a read only state. You can now search for people and view information as you did in the past; but for now, we cannot accept new uploads or modifications to existing GEDCOM files. We expect to add this additional functionality in the coming weeks.

Also, here are answers to a few questions we’ve heard from the community:

Why is this taking so long? RootsWeb has many terabytes of data uploaded by users across its various features. The site also has hundreds of thousands of lines of code. We have been scanning the data using a variety of tools, and that takes time. We’ve also been examining the code and the underlying systems. Some code is being refurbished, and some will need to be more fully rewritten to add the layers of security needed in this day and age. We know it may be frustrating, but we are committed to returning data to you in a safe manner.

Have you found any other security problems? We haven’t found any other problems, but we want to thoroughly update systems to ensure the safety of your information.

Is Ancestry going to start charging for RootsWeb? Ancestry is not going to start charging for RootsWeb. When functionality returns to the site, you will still be able to view content for free.

I’ve heard not everything is coming back online, is that true? We will be returning WorldConnect and Mailing Lists back to their full functionality. Other features are still being evaluated. In cases where we are unable to bring back previous functionality or content, we will explore ways for people who uploaded data to retrieve it if we don’t feel we can put it back online safely.

Care to share your thoughts with us?

Update: January 9, 2018

We have spent the last few weeks reviewing the functionality on RootsWeb and have created a plan to bring many of your contributions back online over the next few months. As we stated before, our first priority is security, and ensuring that every part of RootsWeb meets our stringent security standards. Our next priority is getting you, the users of RootsWeb and its services, access to your content.

Right now, the best way for us to meet both goals is to begin bringing portions of RootsWeb back online in a read-only state. This means you will have access to content, but you will not be able to load new content in these sections. While this may not be ideal, it is the best way for us to protect RootsWeb users while also providing the ability to use the content you value. This is an interim step while we continue to evaluate the potential for bringing more of the RootsWeb services back online in a more complete manner.

Here’s our current plan:

Hosted Web Sites: Soon we will begin bringing Hosted Web Sites back online. We will start with a few hundred and then add more over time, giving us a chance to scan the content.

Family Trees/WorldConnect: Family Trees or WorldConnect allows you to upload a GEDCOM file and publish it for others to see. It is currently being reviewed by our software engineers and security team and we plan on having a read-only, searchable version up in the next few weeks. The ability to upload new GEDCOM files will be available in the coming months.

Mailing Lists: Mailing Lists have been functioning as normal, but the archives have been unavailable. We plan to make the archives available to you once we have WorldConnect available to you in a readable version.

We will be making decisions about other functionality over time.

We appreciate your patience as we bring the different pieces of RootsWeb back online in a secure manner. You, our contributors and viewers, are what has made RootsWeb the vibrant free genealogy community it is.

The RootsWeb Team

FYI, the above page came up at the following address: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohcuyaho/Projects/index.html

Just to remind myself of the history of Rootsweb, I went to Wikipedia. Here is what the entry on Ancestry.com provided about Rootsweb:


RootsWeb was acquired by Ancestry in June 2000. RootsWeb is a free genealogy community that uses online forums, mailing lists, and other resources to help people research their family history. Founded in 1993 by Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson as the Roots Surname List, it is the oldest free online community genealogy research site. Users can upload GEDCOM files of their information for others to search at the WorldConnect portion of the site. Trees uploaded to WorldConnect are searchable at both the RootsWeb and Ancestry websites. RootsWeb provides resources (such as webspace, mailing list, message boards) for the WorldGenWeb project.

On December 20, 2017, a file containing 300,000 RootsWeb user names, passwords, and email addresses was exposed to the internet. The 300,000 records were from RootsWeb surname list service with 55,000 of those records were also Ancestry.com login credentials.

Let’s hope that The Rootsweb Team can get the website back online sooner rather than later. I for one find it quite useful.


Evaluate Those Hints from Ancestry.com


Yesterday, I received via Ancestry.com’s messaging service an email from a cousin. Here’s what she said:

Hi Wally, I started my family tree on Ancestry.com, but am not sure of the best way to balance info vs. privacy.

Also what is the protocol for entering female’s names…maiden vs. married.

Also, from hints I am finding mistakes in my parent’s info. (Bday, birth & death places) How do I request corrections?

I am entering basics, until I am sure of the exact dates! You aren’t kidding! So many hints!! Who are these contributors??

I wrote back to her this morning with this message:

First, let me put you at ease about privacy: any person entered into an Ancestry.com tree who does not have a death date is hidden from view by all but the owner of the tree and whomever she/he invites in as observer or editor. That includes all info for you and your sibs.

Always enter a female by her maiden name. Add her married name as an alternate name.

The Ancestry.com “hints” come from records in Ancestry.com’s database collections — AND from family trees created by other members. You have to look at each hint and compare the data with what you know to be true. You WILL find mistakes among the hints. Enter only what you know to be correct in your tree.

If the hint with an error came from an official record in one of Ancestry’s collections, you can go through a process to add alternative information to that record. The record itself won’t be changed. There is no way to request corrections to official records. You will notice that Social Security death records don’t get death places exactly right. Don’t waste any time worrying about it. Let me say again: you can’t change mistakes in official records; you can only offer alternative info.

If the hint comes from another family tree, you can get in touch with the owner of the tree and inform them about what you believe to be an error. That includes me–i.e. if I have made a mistake in the Huskonen-Dingman-Van Court-Scheppelmann tree, please let me know.

In summary, hints offered by Ancestry.com are called hints for good reason. It’s up to you to evaluate them and add to your tree only those that make sense. It’s a fact of life in genealogical research that some information out on the Internet, in books, and even in records, is simply wrong!

Happy tree growing!


Deed Research on Grandma Grace’s House


After posting my discovery yesterday that Grandma Grace’s house was no longer standing at 1911 E. 89th St., I decided to do some deed research and see if I could find out who ended up owning the property.

Deed researchers in Cuyahoga County are very fortunate in that the county has an online database of ALL deeds back to its very first days. I went to the web page of the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Officer at
https://recorder.cuyahogacounty.us/searchs/generalsearchs.aspx. I learned that Don Stafford, Grandma Grace’s third husband purchased the house at 1911 E. 89th St. in 1944. Don and she lived there until she died in 1948 and he sold it in 1956. The buyer was Dr. Harry Grau, a Shaker Heights physician, who obviously was acquiring properties for investment purposes based on looking at his Cuyahoga County deed records online.

I didn’t double down to track owners after Dr. Grau but I did discover a property sale between Orca House at 1905 E. 89th St. and the Cleveland Clinic Foundations last summer. Orca House sold five contiguous properties, which no doubt included Grandma’s house, to the Clinic, as I wrote that I suspected in yesterday’s post.

Here are two images from the Internet that show Orca House and the house where Grandma Grace lived with Don Stafford.

I found a website with the name city-data.com that provided the name of the last private owner and the 2008 valuation of the house and property: $40,500. If you are interested, go to http://www.city-data.com/cuyahoga-county/E/E-89th-Street-16.html#prop_603655265

One more note: the days of Orca House probably are numbered. For one thing, it has been merged into another drug treatment organization, which probably led to the sale of its property, including the house at 1911 E. 89th St., to the Cleveland Clinic, as well as maintenance problems with its 125-year-old building. In my Google Search, I stumbled onto this TV report about a ceiling collapse at Orca House last year: https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cle-orca-house-ceiling-collapse-causes-concerns-over-safety-and-funding

Once again, it is amazing what you can learn by doing a little searching on Google.

OMG!!! Grandma Grace’s House Is Gone!


Yesterday, I was driving east on Chester Ave toward University Circle. When I do this, I often look for the house at 1911 East 89th St., just off Chester,  where my Grandma Grace lived from 1943 until her death in 1948.

I posted about visiting this house in 2014: http://www.collectingancestors.com/2014/02/04/remembering-a-visit-to-grandma-graces-house-in-cleveland-her-button-collection/

In 2016 I posted again about Grandma Grace and her move to this house with her third husband, Don Stafford:


This time, there was no house; just a nicely graded and empty lot. It was a shock, to say the least!

The house is gone!!!

What the house looked like when I took this photo in about 2001.

What probably happened was that the Cleveland Clinic bought the house and had it razed. The Clinic complex begins a few hundred feet to the east and south of this now vacant lot. For some reason, I missed all this happening last summer and fall when I went by here on my way to Western Reserve Historical Society.

Eating Pizza in a Covered Bridge in Andover, Ohio


In my quest to accumulate information about the history of Andover, Ohio, where I grew up, I ran across a Google search result for the Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor. The company’s web page provides details of its origins:

At the Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor we invite you to discover a pizza parlor that gives you more than just pizza. At the North Kingsville and Andover locations, the restaurant itself is a piece of history.

These unique eateries are actually restored pieces of an original covered bridge known as the Foreman Road Bridge, named for its location in Eagleville, Ohio. Built in 1862, its entire 126 feet and 55 tons were constructed of local lumber. In 1972 Ashtabula County decided to replace the bridge and sold it to the highest bidder for five dollars. Then began the painstaking task of dismantling and preserving the timber.

Photographs were taken and matched to the carefully numbered crossbeams to insure that it would be reconstructed correctly. For three years the bridge lay in storage while awaiting the development of the plans and the approval of permits. Finally, in 1975 the Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor in North Kingsville, Ohio, opened its doors.

In 1977 it was followed by Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor II in Andover, Ohio. One-half of the bridge was required for each building. Only the original wood was used in the creation of the dining area. Although the atmosphere of early America lingers in the dining rooms, the kitchen boasts all the modern conveniences necessary for quality food preparation. The Covered Bridge has originated a special fine blend of spices and sauce. Fresh dough is made daily. The menu offers a variety of toppings, soups, salads, and sandwiches certain to please even connoisseurs. In the spirit of old-fashioned hospitality, we are happy to extend to you the very best in pizza.

The company also has a Facebook page.

I have heard that Ashtabula County had, at one time, the most covered bridges in the State of Ohio. There is a website listing all known covered bridges in Ohio, including the one that lives on in the form of two pizza parlors.

As some readers know, I moved away from Andover in 1960. I have been back to visit, and I was aware of the Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor — but to date, I have never stopped in.

I am planning a road trip to Andover to do some research at the Andover Library and other stops. I’ll make a point of having some pizza at the Andover Covered Bridge Pizza Parlor.