Union County Genealogical Society

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September 23, 2020 By: Saundra Leininger
Genealogy Errors and How to Avoid Them!
Today, I would like to share with you an article by Andrew Koch in Family Tree Magazine that I found helpful.  I hope that some of his suggestions may be of help to you, too.
5 Common Genealogy Errors (and How to Avoid Them)
No one’s perfect, and we all have genealogy errors from time to time. None of us are safe from errors in our genealogy research. Many software programs (such as RootsMagic) and online family tree services (including Ancestry) have built-in tools to help you error-proof your genealogy. But you can take your family tree’s health into your own hands by knowing what issues to look for. Here are five common genealogy errors—and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Ages that don’t add up
Do you have an ancestor who was born before her parents? How about a great-great-grandmother who gave birth at the age of 60 (or at the age of 6)? Incorrect dates can topple your hard-earned research and raise head-scratching questions. Specifically, watch out for these oddities:
  • Children born before their parents’ birth
  • Women giving birth before the age of 14 or after the age of 50
  • Women married before the age of 13
  • Individuals who married, bought property, appeared in census records, etc. after their death
Solution: Creat a timeline of your ancestor's life.  Timelines can help keep your dates straight and prevent these common-sense errors from occurring. Make sure your timeline includes birth year and note what age your ancestor would have been during life events you uncover in research. Also look for additional records that might shed light on the circumstances.
2. Data copied from family trees
With millions of online family trees on sites like Ancestry.com, Family Search and MyHeritage, it’s hard not to peek at someone else’s family tree from time to time.  Fortunately, family research is not like your high school algebra class—copying, for the most part, is allowed. Genealogists have collaborated since the first family trees were drawn, and cross-referencing research can save time while providing new leads and connecting you to potential relatives.  However, copying another user’s tree without verifying it first is a recipe for genealogical disaster. The information the user found may apply to another person with a similar name (see No. 5), or the data may be incorrect altogether.
Solution: Check other users' resources before adding them to your tree.  Though copying is allowed, genealogy is like your high-school algebra class in another way: You must show your work. And you should hold others to that standard as well. See how the information lines up with what you have found so far and determine for yourself if the other user has come to the most-accurate conclusion given their resources. This goes double for records hints on sites like Ancestry—Not every hint the site suggests will apply to your ancestor.
3. Incorrect record indexes
Digitized, indexed records have made genealogy easier than ever before. And indexes on the big genealogy sites make most records keyword searchable, allowing you to survey far more records than traditional methods allowed. But since volunteers or algorithms indexed records collections by the thousands, not all of these indexes are perfect. Your tree may contain the results of a bad record transcription or poorly indexed document.
Solution: View record images whenever possible. Seeing records for yourself and in context can help you sort out details that the indexing program or a volunteer may have missed. This is especially true for handwritten records, as old-style handwriting is not always read correctly by software.
4. Typos in names or dates
Unfortunately, family trees do not have spell-check. And even if they did, we still would struggle with avoiding typos in our family trees. Add to this that spelling was not usually a priority for our ancestors (many of whom could not read), and you will understand how easy it is for misspellings to find their way into your family data. These can throw off your research and prevent you from getting matched up with other relevant records in online databases.
Solution: Systematically review your names and dates. Every so often, take a step back and look for typos. Making sure your dates are consistently formatted (e.g., that you always use the DD/MM/YYYY format) can help with this. Also keep an eye out for name variants and multiple spellings of surnames, as your ancestor may be listed as these in records or record indexes.
5. The wrong ancestor
Speaking of names: Your family tree may be cursed with a John Smith or a William Jones. (After all, we cannot all have a unique name like “Hannah Montana”!) What if you have the wrong John Smith? Having the wrong person in your tree can be disastrous, wasting your valuable research time and steering you away from records of your actual ancestors.
Solution: Use multiple criteria when searching for ancestors, sepecially those who had common names.  When evaluating records, consider your ancestor’s birth year, occupation, family members and location within a community to make sure you are following the correct person back in time.
By Andrew Koch, Family Tree Magazine

July 16, 2020 By: Saundra Leininger
Celebrating Family History Through Food
 Making family recipes is a wonderful way to celebrate your family’s history and culture, whether you are preparing your favorite everyday fare or a dish for a special occasion.  When you pass on a recipe, you are passing on a piece of your family’s heritage that can be enjoyed for generations to come. 
Several years ago, our youngest daughter, Jennifer Leininger Erickson, decided to design a 4-H project around cooking and family history.  She contacted relatives representing multiple generations asking for recipes and for them to write down their memories surrounding those recipes. She then found pictures to go with each recipe and history.  She wanted to include her three times great grandmothers but did not have any of their recipes so she researched common food and preparation from that era . She combined everything into an appropriate notebook adding a family tree in the front of the book showing her connection to the persons submitting their recipes. 
Using a different format my mother, Evelyn Minnick Clem, purchased large oak recipe boxes for each of her grandchildren.  She filled the boxes with favorite family recipes including some historical information with each one.  When each grandchild was starting their own homes, they were given their box. Today those recipes in their grandmother’s handwriting are cherished.
Whether you make family recipe cards or want to do something a little more official by going the extra mile and creating a family history cookbook it is a geat gift for future generations.
Here are a few hints to help you get started:
  1. Include a bit of genealogical information with each recipe.  Consider including a photo of the food being enjoyed at a past celebration or some information about how and when this food was enjoyed in the past.
  2. If you do not have many family recipes but you know a little about your ancestor’s background, do some research to find out what foods were commonly eaten in the times and places your ancestors lived.
  3. For older recipes, google for a conversion chart to decipher older measurements.
  4. Share Grandma’s most famous recipes in her own handwriting, complete with cooking stains by making copies of them.