Monday, January 4, 2021

Randy's Best Genealogy Research Discoveries in 2020

 Here is my end-of-year review of my "Best Genealogy Research Discoveries" for 2020:

1)  With the advent of AncestryDNA's ThruLines, I may have cracked open the mystery of the birth parents of my 3rd great-grandfather John Richman (1788-1867) of Hilperton, Wiltshire.  By finding suitable candidates for the parents of John Richman in the Wiltshire church records, I added the candidates one couple at a time to my Ancestry Member Tree connected to my DNA results, and found that there were five DNA matches with ThruLines that were descended from John and Mary (Parsons) richman and two DNA matches with ThruLines that were descended from William and Hannah (Picture) Richman.  I wrote a five part series summarized in Who Were the Parents of John Richman (1788-1867) of Hilperton, Wiltshire? - Part 5 (posted 28 April 2020).

However, the DNA matches only prove that we share common segments of DNA, not that they are from the specific Richman families.  My task now is to research those seven lines to see if there are any other common ancestors within, say, 5th great-grandparents of mine.  

2) To help with the John Richman parents study, I tabulated and analyzed all of the Richman families that resided in Hilperton, Wiltshire between 1773 and 1793 using the Hilperton Land Tax Assessment (1773-1848) records available on FHL digital microfilm.  I wrote about it in 
Finding Richmans, Richs, Marshmans in the Hilperton Land Tax Assessment Records, 1773-1793 - Part I (posted 17 June 2020) and Part 2 (posted 22 June 2020).   I need to continue with these records when I can find information after 1793 on the digital microfilm at my local FamilySearch Library.

3)  I was able to find church records for my grandsons' Danish family lines in the 19th century on FamilySearch, and wrote 8 blog posts for some of their Danish ancestors.  The last one is in   Dipping Into Denmark Church Records: 1841 Death and Burial Record of Peder Jensen Hede (1753-1841) (posted 26 August 2020) which includes links to the others.

4)  I made significant progress in finding common ancestors for autosomal DNA matches on the various websites.  AncestryDNA updates their ThruLines every so often that has provided over 400 "Common Ancestor" links (a few of them for "potential ancestors") with lines to AncestryDNA matches in the past two years.  MyHeritage updated their "Theory of Family Relativity" in May that provided 8 "Common Ancestor" links with lines to MyHeritageDNA matches.  

For DNA matches at AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA, I have added Notes to many more matches that include the relationship, the cM and segment numbers, the tree size of the match, the number of shared matches, the common ancestors (if known), and whether the match is in my RootsMagic tree.  When I know the common ancestors and there is a documented path to the DNA match, I add that path to my RootsMagic tree with a "DNA Match" event that provides information about the DNA relationship.

5)  I started my application process for membership in the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in January - see 
General Society of Mayflower Descendants Application Process - Step 1 (posted 21 January 2020)After COVID hit in March, it sat dormant because the repositories that could provide BMD records were closed.  In early December, I sent off to the San Diego County Clerk's office for birth certificates for my mother and me, and received them on Saturday last.  I also submitted a draft of the application to the San Diego colony person for review and comment.

6)  The MyHeritage In Color (colorizing) and Photo Enhancing features are excellent, and I have colorized dozens of black and white family photographs and am posting them in the Wordless Wednesday series.  I took advantage of the MyHeritage Mixtiles offer and now have colorized photographs of ancestral couples on a bedroom wall.

7)  I sent 29 more home movies (from my grandparents, my parents, and my own) in a FOREVER box to be digitized before Christmas, and expect to receive the digitized movies soon.  I still can't find the videotapes I know I have hiding somewhere in the house.  If I find them, I will order another FOREVER box.  I started adding digitized photographs to photo albums on FOREVER also, but will need to buy more storage soon.

8)  I continue to use the "Mining Hints From a Specific Collection" Tool to find Record Hints in a specific Ancestry database for persons in my Ancestry Member Tree.  The results come out alphabetically, with tree persons with an unknown-to-me surname at the top of the list.  I can find that unknown surname about 50% of the time by using the Hint shown and then using Suggested Records and Searching from the tree person for more information.

9)  I search for Seaver/Sever/Seever/Sevier/s/ persons almost every day, and add them to my RootsMagic family tree.  I find them with database searches, and in the online collaborative trees.  If I am lucky, I can connect them to parents already in my tree.  If I don't have parents for them, they are the start of a new Seaver bush that may grow into a tree.  

After I add them to RootsMagic, I TreeShare with my Ancestry tree and obtain Web Hints, and then search the online databases, and update the RootsMagic profiles.  For persons born after 1800, I can usually find birth, death and burial records, and sometimes marriage records.  20th century records after about 1940 are more difficult to find, but the indexes of obituaries and marriages are very helpful.

10)  Needing blog fodder, writing the Amanuensis Monday, Treasure Chest Thursday, Seavers in the News, and 52 Ancestors blog posts keeps me searching and finding records to add to the RootsMagic family tree, and thereby "advancing the ball" of my ancestral research.  Every little bit helps!  


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2021, 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

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Blog Title: The Importance of Genealogical History

Arthur L. Kusserow, M. Ed.


Family history, or genealogy, is perhaps one of the best ways to learn about one’s past. Learning about our pasts often takes in some surprising directions. Genealogical research can reveal one’s family tree. As that tree is traced back through time, stories of one’s history begin to reveal themselves. Events unfold, and stories are revealed. Histories are made.

Genealogical research is the study of one’s past. It involves looking back to find records of our extended family and then piecing them together into a family tree that better tells our story. Genealogical research can also reveal the history of our covenantal relationship with God. The first book of the Bible, after all, begins with genealogical research.
Genealogy is a powerful tool. It provides an opportunity to both teach and learn history. It also provides an opportunity to learn about research methods. Those conducting genealogies will constantly be involved in questions of accessibility, documentation, and verification. It can also provide an excellent opportunity for school research projects, or home school projects that teach about families and their histories. Christian families are afforded the opportunity to learn about the faith of their forebears. Constructing family trees, conducting oral interviews, visiting local libraries, researching census data. and finding family histories are common pastimes of the genealogical historian. Genealogical research can also lead one to an interest in other historical topics. For example, someone whose grandparents served in the Civil War would most likely be interested in learning more about the topic.
Genealogical research can trace the history of a town. Compiling the genealogical history over time of the families living in a town can reveal interesting patterns of occupations, social makeup, and family networks. Birth, death, and marriage records often reveal interesting portraits of a family. Family histories of town residents of reveal stories worth telling. These stories often reveal the true history of a town. Town records can reveal the occupational trends of its residents.
An example of the impact and importance of genealogical research can be found in Our Father’s Faith: Genealogical Research and Covenant Evangelism. Author Roger Schultz traces his family history using an oral history interview conducted with his great-grandfather in 1939. The interview reveals that the grandfather was a Minnesota lumberjack using the healing powers of the open pine trees to treat his recent “galloping consumption” diagnosis. Schultz’s grandmother, when presented with an image of her mother found in the files of Schultz’s grandfather, teared up in remembrance. This is the impact of genealogical research.
Genealogical research tells our story. Schultz’s further genealogical research in Karoline Schultz, R.I. P revealed that his great-grandmother hailed from Germany, settled in Michigan, and struggled with mental health issues. The empty spaces, isolation, a stern husband, an inability to speak English, and the harsh rigors of frontier life caused her to lose mental stability. She was committed to a mental facility and recovered through the help of other patients and constantly reading her German Bible. Genealogical devotionals such as Schultz’s bring family members closer to their past.
Genealogical research is a powerful tool that reveals the secrets of our past. Genealogical research can help us develop a family tree that often inspires one to locate further historical records relating to their ancestry. It can bring families together. Genealogical research can also help tell the story of a town or the ancestry of important public figures. It is a significant but often overlooked tool. More attention should be paid to the importance of genealogical research as a link to our past.