Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dear Randy - How Do You Use the Ancestry Record Hints?

A society colleague asked me this question recently after I explained my "One-Name Study" goals - to find every Seaver/Seavers/Sever/Severs/Seever/Seevers/etc. person that I can and put them in my RootsMagic family tree (and then into my Ancestry Member Tree, MyHeritage Tree, and the FamilySearch Family Tree for posterity).

My basic process of adding a person to my tree is:

1)  Find the person in a record, or in an online tree.
2)  Add the person to my RootsMagic tree, with the information from the record.
3)  Add the person into my Ancestry Member Tree using RootsMagic TreeShare (which synchronizes data between RootsMagic and my Ancestry tree one person at a time).
4)  Ancestry quickly finds Hints (Trees, Records, Photos, Stories) for that person based on the data available.
5)  Check the Ancestry Hints, and add content and source citations to my RootsMagic person (after critically thinking if the Hint applies to the person).  
6)  Sometimes I will search for more records on Ancestry by searching from the Person profile on Ancestry.  Add content and sources as required.
7)  Investigate RootsMagic Web Hints on Findmypast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage for the person, and add content and sources to the RootsMagic person.  
8  TreeShare the RootsMagic person with the Ancestry tree person one more time to synchronize the profiles.
9)  Match or create the FamilySearch Family Tree profile for the person from RootsMagic.

The question pertained to the use of Ancestry Record Hints - so that is Steps 4) and 5) in the process above.  Here is an example of finding and using a Record Hint:

Several years ago, I found a 1940 U.S. Census record for Jennie B. Seaver residing in Waynesboro, North Carolina on  A Suggested record on the 1940 census record showed a 1930 U.S. Census Record that provided her husband's name, Jacob W. Seaver.  I knew that Jacob's first wife died in 1922, so Jennie is, apparently, a second or later wife for Jacob.  I had added Jennie to my RootsMagic tree as a wife of Jacob Weld Seaver (1871-1939).  Here is my initial entry for Jacob and Jennie Seaver in my RootsMagic tree:

Last week, I used RootsMagic to TreeShare Jennie into my Ancestry Member Tree.  Ancestry quickly found six records for this Jennie person born in 1902 in South Carolina and listed them in the "Record Hints" list.  Here they are (three screens):

The six records are:

*  Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963:  Name: Jennie Brice; Birth May 1883, Winsboro, South Carolina; Arrival 28 Dec 1921 in Tampa, Fla., Passenger Lists.

*  U.S. Find A Grave, 1600-Current:  Name: Jennie Seaver; Birth 26 May 1883; Death, 23 Apr 1961; Burial Monticello, Fairfield County, South Carolina.

*  1940 United States Federal Census:  Name: Jennie B. Seaver; Birth about 1903, South Carolina; Residence Waynesville, Haywood, North Carolina.  The record indicates she is widowed.

*  South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1965:  Name: Jennie Brice Brice; Birth:  abt. 1883; Death: 23 Apr 1961, York, South Carolina; Spouse: JW Seaver; Father: John A. Brice; Mother: Rebecca Brice.  This record is a death certificate - the name at the top was "Jennie Brice Seaver."

*  1930 United States Federal Census:  Name:  Jennie B. Seaner; Birth: abt. 1885, South Carolina; Residences: Waynesville, Haywood, North Carolina; Spouse: JW Seaner.  The record indicates she was first married at age 20, so this may be her second or later marriage.

*  U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007:  Name:  Jennie Brice Brice; Birth: 26 May 1883, Woodward, South Carolina; Father:  John A. Brice; Mother: Rebecca Brice.  The Note for this record (not shown above) is: "Aug. 1940: Name listed as Jennie Brice Seaver."

Only the 1940 census record had the birth date wrong.  Three records listed the name of Jennie's spouse, including her death certificate.  Two records listed her full birth date and death date.  Two mentioned her parents names.

It didn't take a lot of critical thinking to conclude that Jennie Brice was the wife of Jacob Weld Seaver.  I added the event, date and place information to my RootsMagic tree profile for Jennie, and added sources for the name, birth, census, death and burial information.  Here is the revised RootsMagic tree entry for Jennie (Brice) Seaver.

Finding the information, looking at the records, entering the name, event, date, place and source information into RootsMagic took less than 20 minutes today.  I need to complete the other steps in my list above, but this provides a baseline for me.

I have a birth name, parents names, a spouse's name, birth information, death information, and burial information for Jennie.  I could add the parents names, and go through the rest of my search process.  I could look for an obituary, marriage record, probate record, land records, church records, and more if this were my ancestor.  For my "One-Name Study" purposes, this is enough for now.

This was not especially difficult today - but it does illustrate what can be done using RootsMagic and tools to find information about a person that I had only a first name of before the exercise.

Some people call this quick click genealogy - I call it smart click genealogy because of the critical thinking required to draw a conclusion.  Isn't genealogy FUN?


Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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Gayle said...

I am finding it annoying when multiple hints are ones that I originally added to Ancestry. I don't think that used to happen.
If I click ignore then they appear on the person in my tree as ignored and I find myself going back to see what they were at a later time.
Genealogy is FUN but it takes a lot of time and I would rather not be spending it sorting through hints I already have.

Bill said...

Thanks for this Randy, very illuminating. Similar approach could be used for "quick and dirty" trees on DNA matches for instance confirming ThruLine hints.

In this case, Jennie acquired the Seaver name via marriage. Do you do more extensive work when you find a person who is Seaver by birth, e.g. when you found Jacob, did you follow him back with siblings, parents, grandparents, etc as far as possible?

Bill Greggs

Marian B. Wood said...

Smart click, indeed. Clear process to confirm hints makes sense! Takes only a few minutes to keep the tree accurate. Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy your process posts.

frankthetank said...

After you filled out the facts and sources for Jennie, What do you do with her profile on and her hints? Here's what I am assuming you're doing. You don't 'accept' the hints on webhints or on You then TreeShare Jennie to with facts and sources you created on RootsMagic. You go back and 'accept' hints, but I'm not sure if on webhints or on

What do you do with all the hints waiting to be accepted on that you used to help you add as facts and sources on RootsMagic? Do you quickly accept them on RootsMagic webhints or do you go on Ancestry and review and accept them there?

What does Jennie's profile on look like, the source list? Do sources get added as 'other sources' or added as 'Ancestry Sources'? Do you care if the facts are 'Ancestry Sources' or not?

Another question not quite related. Where is the best place to attach these media files? In the event facts or in the source details? For example, a 1930 census hint from with address, birth, employment, etc. Where is the best place to tag this census image? Thanks