Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Finding More Cousins Using an Ancestry Member Tree

I received a new AncestryDNA Circle recently - for my 4th great-grandfather Aaron Smith (1765-1841).  There were two others in this circle, so I could see their descendancy from Aaron Smith and Mercy Plimpton.  I wanted to add as much as I could about those lines to my new-found cousins, so I added their lines to my RootsMagic database.

Then I remembered that I had written Thinking About My Descendancy Research Plan back in January, and realized this was an excellent opportunity to create a new Ancestry Member Tree and let Ancestry discover the low-hanging fruit in the form of Hints and an organized search strategy.

1)  I created a GEDCOM file for 6 generations of descendants from Aaron Smith in RootsMagic, then uploaded it to a new Ancestry Member Tree (which I made Private for now).  When I opened the tree, I saw:



Immediately, the green Leaf Hints started to appear for persons in this tree.  The tree has 125 Persons in it, and after less than 30 minutes has 445 Record Hints.

2)  My plan is to:

*  For each person in the tree, review the Record Hints offered by Ancestry and accept the ones that are for the person of interest.  Then add those Hints as events in my RootsMagic database including source citations for the events.
*  For each person in the tree, conduct a Search for the person on Ancestry, and attach the records that are for the person of interest.   Then add events in my RootsMagic database for those matches, including source citations for the events.

3)  Here is the top of the Hints list for James A. Smith (1833-1902), my second great-granduncle:


There are seven Hints offered for this person:

*  Ancestry Member Trees for James Alpheus Smith
*  1870 United States Federal Census for James Alpheus Smith (census record)
*  Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (birth record) for James Alpheus Smith
*  U.S. Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current for James A. Smith (cemetery record)
*  Michigan Death Records, 1897-1920 for James A. Smith (death record)
*  1900 United States Federal Census for James Smith (census record)
*  Michigan Death Records, 1867-1950 for James A. Smith (death record)

4)  A Search from the profile page for James Alpheus Smith provides more potential records for him.  My experience is that almost all matches for a person are listed in the first 50 matches, so the list is manageable even though Ancestry found over 2 million matches.


In addition to the 7 green leaf Hints listed above, there are records for:

*  Massachusetts Marriage Records, 1840-1915 for James A. Smith and Annie E. Stewart
*  Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 for James A. Smith and Annie E. Stewart (2 entries, different resources)
*  1880 United States Federal Census for James Smith (census record)

I reviewed the first 100 matches, and all 10 of the applicable matches listed above are in the first 50 matches.

5)  There may be other records to search for - there are probably census records for him in the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Census, and there may be City Directory entries in Boston and Detroit.  This is a very common name, which is why there were 2 million matches on the list.

Viewing the Hints and searching took just a few minutes;  adding the new content to James Alpheus Smith in my RootsMagic database will take some time, but it is well worth doing the search this way.  I'm not done, obviously, there may be records in other online databases on FamilySearch, Fold3, MyHeritage, Findmypast, AmericanAncestors, GenealogyBank, Google and other online websites.

So, that's one down and 124 persons to go. That's manageable in a week or two, mainly because I have already found quite a few records in my ancestral line from Aaron Smith.

6)  Recall that the green leaf Hints are not the result of an actual search for the person - they are for records that other users have attached to their Ancestry Member Tree.  Therefore, a Search for additional records is necessary.

7)  Having the green leaf Hints and the general Search capability is a real benefit of having an Ancestry subscription.  The Hints save me a tremendous amount of time since almost every Hint (up to 95%(?) provided by Ancestry is for the correct person, even for a common name).

=============================================


Copyright (c) 2016, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at randy.seaver@gmail.com.


3 comments:

Arlene Tway Watters said...

Congratulations Randy a well deserved recognition for all your hard work and sharing!

Barbara Lawson said...

No surprise to me. I follow dozens of genealogy blogs , and if I have time for only one, yours is the one I read. Nice to see your hard work being recognized . Congratulations!

RHolmes said...

Great idea Randy. A terrific way to quickly find lots of information regarding cousins. However, does this mean you have to revise source citations for each item found, or will you live with the Ancestry style citations?