Sunday, August 26, 2018

Latest news from the Genies

We had a terrific meeting this week starting with tips from the NWGC.  Linda and Sylvia reported on the Beginners Class.  Instructor Amie Tennant gave her view of what every genealogist should know with an emphasis on being professional, including citing and evaluating your sources.  We have a handout and Sylvia’s notes to share if you ask.

Elizabeth attended an afternoon workshop on Family Search.  She was encouraged to learn how to use Family Search which started filming records around the world in the 1930’s and has the largest collection.  They are constantly adding and indexing new records.  I heard they recently opened a new Immigration collection which was fully indexed by 165,000 volunteers.  Their indexing process is considered to be the most accurate since two people index separately and any differences are reconciled by a third person.

At NWGC I attended an afternoon workshop by CeCe Moore covering her process for using Ancestry autosomal DNA to find unknown parentage.  She described two methods of triangulation, that is,using matching DNA of three people to form networks.  There is segment triangulation and pedigree triangulation.  CeCe uses pedigree (family trees) triangulation almost exclusively and uses matching DNA segments as needed.  To keep track of her “genetic networks” created using Ancestry Shared Matches, she uses the Ancestry Notes feature and a handwritten notebook.  I have a handout for this process on request. 

CeCe was also the banquet speaker this year.  She reminded us that genetic genealogy is a relatively new area of study and she has been in it since the beginning.  Around 2008 they had theories about how much DNA was inherited from various ancestors but she wanted to have real-life data.  She did a 40-person study with her family to determine how much DNA was shared by different relationshps.  After that her brother-in-law asked to be tested even though he wasn’t genetically related.  Big surprise!  He was a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings.  She works almost exclusively with unknown parentage.  She believes that reuniting families and helping to heal the past is her most important work to date.

For the last few years she has been asked to do crime-solving work but she refused, thinking it was not ethical.  After the publicity around using genetic genealogy methods to solve the Golden State Killer case and after GedMatch changed their terms of agreement, she decided the time was right to go into crime-solving.  GedMatch is the website being used by law enforcement and they recently stated in their terms that the site could be used for solving violent crimes.  That was a warning to all participants.  CeCe is working for Parabon, a company that services law enforcement investigations. 

Genie Loretta reported seeing two 20/20 episodes in which CeCe Moore works with foundlings (those abandoned at birth) to reunite them with birth families.  Thomas MacEntee says, “you MUST watch them (and get out your hankies!)”. 

Remember Thomas MacEntee with DNA Bargains and Genealogy Bargains websites.  You’ve missed a lot of bargains this summer while I have been off vacationing.  If you are interested, you better sign up for his emails.  They are informative, timely and he sometimes offers free articles that are helpful.  It was just announced that Thomas will be one of the keynote speakers at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in August, 2019. 

Another fun part of the NWGC was meeting up with members of the new Virtual Genealogical Association.  Especially fun was that many of the members were speakers at the conference, people I had just seen from afar before.   I joined this group for $20 a year.  They offer 3 or so webinars each month by well-known genealogists, a Facebook page for questions, and meetups at conferences.  Join over at 

I continue to update our Events page on the Genies blog.  In case a national conference is in your dreams, I am adding any info I see about RootsTech, National Genealogical Society Conference, the Southern CA Jamboree in May, etc. as I see them.  RootsTech in Feb 2019 opened hotel reservations last month and conference registration open September 20.  Let me know if you would like to talk about what it is like.  I haven’t picked a conference for 2019 myself. 
Lastly, a local interest story.  Remember a post just before Pioneer Days when John H sent us photos of his 3rd great-grandfather Nicholas Sheffer and the parade down Main Street.  Shortly after that I received an email from a California woman who is also descended from Nicholas Sheffer.  She found that blogpost through Google and she was looking for the original picture.  Now here’s the eerie part.  Coincidentally I was looking at the Whatcom Genealogical Society website and darn if there wasn’t an extensive transcription of an interview with the same Nicolas Sheffer.  This is such surprise because there were only a few similar documents there.

We’ll see you, Genies, again in person on September 17 or sooner. 
In the meantime, Happy Hunting!

Match Your Goals to Your Education

Hello, Genies,  Look what’s coming in September.  It seems like I am always blogging about events.  There are so many local and free events along with a few with an entrance fee. Find something that will move your goals along and hop on board.


Saturday, September 1, 2018, 10:00 AM PST

Kim von Aspern-Parker presents:

What Do I Do Next: How To Unlock Your Genealogy Using Research Plans

Sep 6 Unlock the Past 1-Day Seminar in Seattle with Blaine Bettinger, Maurice Gleeson, and others.  About $45 USD.  Sylvia is going to this. 

Sat Sep 8   at 1pm-3pm   Google Tools for Genealogists
George Ridgeway will introduce the numerous ways genealogists can utilize Google to make their research more productive and streamlined. Appropriate for beginners to advanced researchers. Free and open to the public. Presented by Skagit Valley Genealogical Society.

Event Info: (360) 755-0760
Ages: All Ages
Price: Free
Event Website:

At Burlington Library
820 E. Washington Ave.
Burlington, WA  98233

Sep 10 Loretta’s Writing Group.  Details on Ferndale Genies Blog Events tab or email

Sep 10 WGS Monthly meeting.  “What I Did this Summer” is a chance to learn from members of the Whatcom Society and get to know them better.  Meeting starts at 2:00 at the Elks on Samish Way.  Free and open to the public.  Details on our Events tab.

Sep 15
Maureen Taylor, the nationally known “Photo Detective”,
is coming to Bellevue on Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Her three presentations will help you date old photographs and maybe identify the people in them.  The cost is only $25 and Registration before September 1st is highly recommended. 

Private consultations with her are available afterwards at an additional cost.

The event will be held on Saturday, September 15, at the Vasa Park Ballroom, 3560 W Lake Sammamish Road SE, Bellevue, WA  98008.  Free parking and doors open at 9 am with presentations from 9:30 am to 2 pm.

For more details about the presentations and lunch, see our website    Of course, you can register for the event using our website.

Sep 17 Genies Meeting

Sep 19   Another  FREE WEBINAR from SCGS

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, 6:00 PM PST

Preserving Family History in the Face of Disaster

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Your Travelers Are Home and Brimming with Ideas

Your very own genealogy travelers are home again.  We just wrapped up our three-day intensive in Arlington and are brimming with tips and ideas.  To set the scene: we had nine sessions by the keynote speakers and six sessions where we could pick one of five offerings. 

Two sessions drew me in.  Their message was: “Get with the program and clean up your family tree!!!”?  What drew me in? They knew what I needed most.  A good talking to.

CeCe Moore stole the show.  She delivered three keynote sessions plus a banquet talk and an advanced 3-hour workshop.  She moves us ahead in with her ideas, skills and ethics.  Hear more tomorrow.

I can’t guess what other topics attendees will be bringing to our Genies meeting tomorrow but I guarantee it will be varied and I expect there will be tips you can go to work on. 

If you have been learning or traveling, you are warmly invited to speak as well. 

As usual I have been thinking about education.  Conferences are great and I find myself listening to talks about things I never had any idea about.  This latest NWGC conference seemed to focus on history, including migration patterns from Europe and Great Britain, from the ship landings down the Shenandoah Valley, from everywhere out to Missouri and beyond.  I even went to a class about 11 great U.S. financial panics and the raw emotion they evoked in our ancestors.  It broadened my view in an unexpected way.

My next step is to identify specific areas I need to learn more about.  These won’t be your areas but they are mine:  research methodology, Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), Roots Magic, and maybe others.   How will I do that?  I have found a mother-daughter team that has written a book, blogs, and podcasts called “Research Like a Pro”.  The mother Diana Elder is an Accredited Genealogist and she created a 6-step research process.  I’m following their podcasts which are going step-by-step through the process.  This would be good for anyone.  See here:  and there is a tab for the podcasts.

I also want to point out the Southern California Genealogical Society webinars.  They have two every month that are free for the live broadcast and recorded for members only.  (Note that they would love for you to join.)   I’ll be tuning in on Sep 1 for research plans and Oct 6 for GPS. The schedule for the rest of the year is here:

If you haven’t heard of GPS, the genealogical proof standard, it’s because I didn’t want to scare you away.  I have found that stretching for education is what moves me ahead and you can do it too.

I’m eager to see you at the Ferndale Library tomorrow 1-3:30. Setup starts at 12:30. 

Bye for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fall Seminar season is off and running

Fall Seminar season is off and running.  Tomorrow a few of us will be off to our annual conference in Arlington, a harbinger for a run of seminars, webinars and the like.  Don’t miss our Genies meeting next Monday.  I am eager to hear about your summer and plans for further research coming up. 

Our neighbors at the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society have two special programs coming up, Google Tools for Genealogists and a four-Saturday Intermediate class.  Both well-worth a look!

Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, is coming to the Eastside Genealogical Society in Belle vue.  She is the biggest name in photos and I haven’t seen her in this area before.

And the biggest names in DNA and Irish Genealogy are here for one-day before a 7-day cruise to Alaska.  Welcome Blaine Bettinger, Maurice Gleeson, and Washington’s own Cyndi Ingle. 

There will be others announced soon and, for those who want to stay in their own homes, free webinars are always an option.

Ferndale Genies Monthly Meeting:   3rd Mondays, 1:00-3:30 at Ferndale Library, always free.

Aug 20:   News and tips from NWGC.  With CeCe Moore headlining the conference on Thursday I am sure we will come back talking DNA.  In addition we’ll be attending and reporting on a variety of other classes.  Everyone is invited to talk about tips and techniques that are working for them too.

There will be ample time for questions and research.  Come prepared with questions and passwords.  Bring a computing device or plan to borrow a library laptop.

A Time to Write:  Meetings are the 1st Monday of each month 2:30-4:00.  Better contact Loretta Willems to confirm meetings: 

Loretta Willems leads a group for people wanting to write their stories, either their own memories or the stories they revealed in their genealogical research.  Loretta is the author of The Gift of Laughter: The Story of a California Mennonite Family.  She attends the Whatcom Writers and Publishers group and spoke last month to the Ferndale Genies.  

FREE WEBINAR from Southern California Gen. Society
Saturday, September 1, 2018, 10:00 – 11:30AM PST

Kim von Aspern-Parker presents:
What Do I Do Next: How To Unlock Your Genealogy Using Research Plans

Do you get lost on the internet chasing rabbits down rabbit holes? Have you forgotten and re-ordered a vital record? This class teaches you how to keep your research moving forward.

This society offers free webinars (upcoming topics here ) and their annual big event is the Genealogy Jamboree in June.

Next meeting is Monday, September 10.  Details will be announced in early September.

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society, Burlington meets 2nd Sat, 1pm – 3pm
Meetings will be moving to the Burlington Library in September.  The address is 820 E. Washington Ave.

Skagit Valley Genealogical Society program on Saturday, Sep 8, free and open to the public.

Google Tools for Genealogists, 1-3 pm, Burlington Public Library, 820 E. Washington Ave, Burlington,,

George Ridgeway will introduce the numerous ways genealogists can utilize Google to make their research more productive and streamlined.  Appropriate for beginners to advanced researchers.  Please create a free Google account prior to the session if you would like to follow along.

Skagit Genealogy Workshop (Intermediate Level)
Saturdays Sept 29, Oct 6, Oct 13, Oct 20, 10am to Noon at Burlington Library.

Barbara Johnson and George Ridgeway lead the instruction.  $15 per class or before Sep 22 $50 for all classes before Sep 22 and $60 after Sep 22.  Limit 12 participants.  For details and online registration: or at the workshop.

Individual classes are:  9/29/18 Evidence, 10/6/18 DNA plus Libraries and Archives, 10/13/18 Online Family Trees. and 10/20/18 Record Keeping

Unlock the Past in Seattle, the “land conference”, Thursday, September 6
Seattle Public Library,
1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA
Thursday, September 6, 2018
Have you heard of Unlock the Past Cruises, genealogy on the high seas? Their 14th conference cruise will be to Alaska, Sept 7-14, and sail out of Seattle. They have put together an all day, companion “land conference” for September 6. It will be held at the downtown Seattle Public Library and it is open to all – whether on the cruise, or not. Blaine Bettinger, Maurice Gleeson, Cyndi Ingle, and Wayne Shepheard will be the presenters.

If you are interested, see their website:
At $45 prepaid Sylvia is going and is looking for others to go along.

Maureen Taylor, the nationally known “Photo Detective”, is coming to Bellevue on Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Her three presentations will help you date old photographs and maybe identify the people in them.  The cost is only $25 and Registration before September 1st is highly recommended. 

Private consultations with her are available afterwards at an additional cost.

The event will be held on Saturday, September 15, at the Vasa Park Ballroom, 3560 W Lake Sammamish Road SE, Bellevue, WA  98008.  Free parking and doors open at 9 am with presentations from 9:30 am to 2 pm.

For more details about the presentations and lunch, see our website    Of course, you can register for the event using our website.

“Harvest Your Family Tree” Genealogy Conference, Kelowna, B.C.  September 21-23

September is the perfect time for a road trip – the tourists have mostly gone home, the roads are in good condition and the weather is perfect!  What could be better?  Well, how about a Genealogy Road Trip?
Why not get a few friends together and come to Kelowna for the “Harvest Your Family Tree” Genealogy Conference, taking place from Sept. 28-30, 2018 – Western Canada’s Largest Genealogy Conference?  Sharing the costs and enjoying the companionship of like-minded friends is a wonderful way to see the countryside. All you need is your passport! Don’t want to drive? Our airport has direct flights between Seattle and Kelowna via Horizon Air.

We are thrilled to offer Eleven acclaimed speakers, including: Blaine Bettinger (genetic genealogist/DNA specialist); Cyndi Ingle (Cyndi’s List); Helen V. Smith (from Australia); Dave Obee (Canada’s preeminent genealogist); Lesley Anderson (Ancestry). Of the 31 workshops on offer, only five are on Canadian records so there is something for every researcher no matter where in the world you are searching.

You can read more information at their conference website.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Genealogy is about personal identity

“Genealogy is about personal identity, not ethnicity.”  I stole my title from this Irish Times article  This article, which I heard about in the Extreme Genes email, points out how important visitors and people researching family history are to Ireland.

And from there you can go to the Irish Family History Centre at this link:  This site offers a “how to get started” button, research tips, webinars, chat, ask the experts, free digital genealogy magazine, free newsletter…need I go on? 

What if you are not Irish?  I’m not Irish.  At least not much.  I’m Croatian.  More than a few years ago you wouldn’t have heard me say that.  I wasn’t raised to be Croatian.  I knew my grandmother was born in Croatia.  I knew she spoke German and Croatian as her first languages.  I knew she got on a ship when she was five and traveled in leaky steerage to get to Ellis Island.  But we never called ourselves Croatian. 

When my great-grandfather Frank Ferencevic boarded the ship in Bremen, he stated his “Nationality” as Hungarian and his “Race or Ethnicity” as Croatian.  In the subsequent US Censuses his birthplace was Hungary, Austria, then Yugoslavia.  His birthplace didn’t move just the political boundaries. 

So when did I become Croatian?  When I found an Australian whose DNA matched mine and whose great-grandmother Juliana was my great-grandfather Frank’s sister.  When I friended him on Facebook and saw him proclaim “I’m Cro and I’m proud”.  

I only know the World Cup is on when he starts to crow about his national team.  This year I followed the Croatian team to the semi-finals when they were the third smallest nation to ever get that far.  And when they made the finals, my cousin Tom and his father Josip hopped on a plane to go to Croatia.  In the middle of the night Croatians were gathering in the Dubai airport to get home for the final game.  And when they didn’t win, I celebrated being second best in the world and Tom raised a glass with all his friends and relatives in the homeland.  Maybe next time I will get a red and white checked shirt and join the Croatians.

I believe genealogy is about personal identity.  My DNA doesn’t say Croatian.  At some testing services it doesn’t even say Eastern European.  When people don’t chase down their matches, they are missing the hidden gold, the richness buried in their genes. 

We all have roots somewhere whether its lederhosen, kilts, or checked shirts.  Many nations have sites and resources like the Irish above and we can have fun exploring them.