22 February 2019

New United States quicklink map added to Internet Resources page of Genealogy Trot

13 February 2019

Family Search In-Home activities

FamilySearch has released a new resource for families and individuals to help you discover, gather, and connect your family—past and present.


In-Home Activities are themed activities that help individuals or families to participate in Family History in fun and basic ways. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with getting started or participating in family history. 


There are currently eleven different activities in the About Me section. Each activity is displayed with a name, star ranking from participants, and a short description. 


There are 15 different activities in the My Family section. Like the About Me section, each activity is displayed with a name, star ranking from participants, and a short description. 


Also included is a Tip for Parents page that helps to remind about the purposes of the activities and suggestions on how to make them meaningful and impactful.



The Family Traditions activity in the My Family Section gives ides for three possible activities as well as two ways to enrich or preserve the activity.


The Remembering My Photos activity centers around family photographs and the memories they capture. There are four possible activities along with a way to preserve the pictures and memories online


The My Name activities help to find out more about your own name as well as those family members who may share your name. There are four possible activities and two digital preservation ideas.


At the bottom if the My Name page there is a link to an All About Me activity online.


This Discover Experience currently has 23 different information points that has to do with you and your birthday.


In one I can find out the meaning of my name and of any name of my wife, children, parents, and great-grandparent.



In one I can find out how many people in my country share either my first, middle or last name. It will also look at the names of the five generations of family whose picture are at teh bottom of the page.


There are 289,801 people who share my wife's name in the United States. It is also interesting to note that my father-in-law is from Texas and my mother-in-law is from California. The top two states on the map with the most Rachels.


I almost did not post this one. I feel a little old knowing the first personal computer was invented the year I was born.


One of the modules shows relatives who share a common year with you. In this case my great-grandfather died the same year I was born. The page is filled with information about him including pictures, stories, documents, and audio records if any are available.

I think the In-Home Activities page is a wonderful place to find worthwhile activities that he you to learn about yourself and your family. You should try it out.

11 February 2019

Find a Person on the FamilySearch Family Tree App

FamilySearch has a new feature on the Family Tree app for those who do not have accounts or have not filled in their Family Tree.


When downloading the app be aware that FamilySearch has two different apps.
  1. FamilySearch Tree
  2. FamilySearch Memories
I don't want to discourage you from downloading both but the feature discussed here is in the FamlySearch Family Tree App.



Users without accounts or who are not logged in will see a page to learn about your family. Click the Search for an Ancestor button or swipe to the left.


This page allows you to search for an ancestor without having an account or being logged in.


You will be given information about the family name as well as multiple results to choose from.


  Basic information for your relative will be displayed. If you want more information or functionality you are then asked to log in or create a free account.


Users who already have an account can access this feature by clicking the  more button.


Then select Find a Person.


Enter information about your relative.


You will also receive multiple results and information about the surname you entered.


Once logged in you can see more details about the person and their spouse, and parents. You also can see any sources or memories attached to the person.


If you have not tried the app or if you do not have a free familySearch account you should give this a try.

27 July 2018

Updates are coming to the FamilySearch Fan Chart

I am excited about the announced updates and changes for FamilySearch Fan Chart. The changes are scheduled to come out in a few months but the development team has released a video of some of the features and said that we can share with family and friends!!

Yes, there are things coming I cannot share yet.


The feature I think I am most excited for is the ability to view seven generations in the Fan Chart. I have a full tree and the additional two rows will help me navigate my tree much faster. I know those of you with none or some trees will not find this feature as awesome.


The other additions to the tree allow you to see a visual representation of the number of sources, stories, and photos that are associated with each person.


In the above Fan Chart the darker the color the more sources that are associated with that person. The lighter or white pieces would be great places to find more relatives by attaching additional sources.


In the above Fan Chart, the darker color shows that 5-9 different stories have been attached in memories. The white pieces would be places to go and write narratives or stories about your ancestor and then upload it to the memories tab. The person I would recommend you start with is the one in the circle.


The above Fan Chart shows that one side of the family has five to nine photos loaded into memories of most of the second through sixth generations of ancestors. The other side of the family and many of the 7th generation do not have any photos uploaded at all. This would be a good place to focus efforts.

I know that these additions may not ground breaking but they add richness and texture to the process of discovering your family.



The FamilySearch Memories app allows you to see and find the photos, stories, and documents attached to your relatives memories. Even better, it allows you to upload new photos, stories, documents, and audio recordings to the memories of your ancestors.

FamilySearch also already had a way to find photos of your ancestors. However, the outlined steps took you through filtering drop-down menus. Once found, you had to click an additional view my relationship link. The new design is much more simple and easy to use as well as understand. 


The website and app from  https://stories.familyfoundapp.com/ has made it possible to find your family stories. The site also estimates how long it would take to read the story. 


FamilySearch also had a way to print a seven generation Fan Chart even though you could not view all seven generations in the Fan Chart View on the website or app.

I hope I have done justice in showing the upcoming features and additions as well as some of the other ways to access and enrich your discovery experiences. 

14 May 2018

LivingDNA Test Results

I received my LivingDNA test results. No, I am not taking multiple tests to see if my heritage will change. I am however intrigued by DNA and they had a great sale at RootsTech this year.

As a side note, I purchased my 23andMe test before Christmas and this test in February. I took both tests and mailed them in on March 3rd. I received my 23andMe results on April 15th. A month later I got my LivingDNA results on May 14th.



The initial navigation is fairly simple but unique. A tutorial kicks on and asks if you want to walk through the results. 


The mtDNA and and Y-DNA results are the same as 23andMe. I am not really surprised but with my experience with MyHeritage DNA I am still skeptical. The above three body outlines and a simple navigation are all you see without drilling down to find more information.


I am sure this website is mobile friendly but the lack of symmetry between the graphics and the text bothers me when I am using my PC. I doctored the above image to get the graph and map in proportion and close together. The rest of the images I will not change.


A unique feature from LivingDNA is the ability to change the display of the results based on three formulas; complete, standard, and cautious. One of the issue I have with the MyHeritage test is explained with these formulas.

  • The Complete setting assigns small amounts of the unassigned percentages to regions that look most similar. There is some uncertainty about matching in this way. 
  • The Standard setting is assigned using the best guess of the exact source. Unassigned segments are labeled that way.
  • The Cautious setting groups genetically similar populations together. This is the most certain result but gives a much bigger footprint to ethnicity.

The selling point of this test was that they claimed to have the best testing for locations within Great Britain. 


LivingDNA also gives you two other ways to understand the percentages of your ethnicity.



The body graph displays the makeup in a visual way. I can see some different colors but since I am color-blind I think this effectiveness is lost on me. 


Clicking on the body sorts the colors together. I understand this much more than the other body graph but these views are my least favorite.


I think the pie-chart view is the easiest to understand besides the map view. The percentage presented are the same in all three presentations but each allow you to see the meaning in different ways.


LivingDNA has the best sharing ability of the four DNA websites I have used. Not only can you share the complete report but it is also just as interactive for those you share with as it is for the users. Sharing works for Facebook and Twitter. They also made it very easy to download your Raw Data so you can use it with other sites. 

Comparing to the other DNA sites I am missing the chromosome browser on this website. I realize that Ancestry also does not have this tool but I think it will become essential. However, the biggest loss is that there is no matching, They group my results, present it in three different ways but there is not any information about others who have taken the test and how closely I am related to them. This may be why there is not a chromosome browser. There is nothing to compare or match. I did not realize this was not a feature of the LivingDNA package.

13 May 2018

DNA Next Steps - Chromosome Browsers and DNA Painter

I first ventured into DNA with Ancestry's kit in February 2015. At that time I was satisfied with the ethnicity estimate since it matched my known tree. In 2017 I took the MyHeritage DNA test and the ethnicity estimate varied from the Ancestry results. I started wondering how this all works. In February of 2018, I received my 23andMe test results and noticed similar report formats as presented by MyHeritage. Because of this I am starting to understand how I can use my DNA results to understand more about my heritage.

Each testing company uses its own DNA test pools to determine ethnicity results. MyHeritage allows you to upload raw DNA results from other companies to test against their pool of DNA and to analyze the results using their tools.


One of the tools that MyHeritage uses is called the Chromosome Browser. MyHeritage is not the only website to use a chromosome browser however it was the first one I became familiar with. Chromosome Browsers allow you to visualize the data that is presented from the DNA tests so you can more easily understand the what segments of DNA you share with relatives.


My ethnicity results are displayed in the above Ancestry Composition Chromosome Painting on the 23andMe website. The format is the same as the Chromosome Browser on the MyHeritage website. The difference being that there are two sets for every line. In the set the top line represents your paternal line and the bottom your maternal line.


The above DNA Comparison View on 23andMe is very similar to the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage.


If you look at the two charts the information presented about the chromosome segments are almost identical. The data used to create these two charts are from separate DNA tests. Both my aunt and I have taken MyHeritage and 23andMe DNA tests.


DNA Painter is a chromosome mapping tool that allows you to easily color-code different segments of your DNA. This color coded map allows you to see overlapping or common segments between relatives. Mapping your different segments would allow you to see how other DNA matches from unknown relatives link to you. This also has a top and bottom set for each line of DNA with paternal represented on top and maternal on bottom.

In the above example, I know how Zac Trotter in yellow is related to me but I do not know how I am related to Mary Allred in blue. However, the DNA segments in line 3 and line 11 show Zac is also related to my aunt. Lines 1, 15, and 16 show Mary Allred is related to my aunt Connee. None of the yelow or blue segments overlap showing that Zac and Mary are not related. This suggests that one is related through the Trotter line and the other the Taylor line, both lines I share with my aunt.

All of the above colored segments correspond with my paternal side and are on the top line with the exception of the two segments that are color-coded for my Scandinavian segment markers. Zac and aunt Connee both have DNA segments that correspond with the Scandinavian segments. This suggests that the Scandinavian heritage comes through the Trotter line. However, with out adding information from my maternal line this information is not conclusive and may result in false conclusions, more on that experience later.

I am still learning to understand my DNA and the ways I can use the results for researching my family but I sure would like more of my known relatives to share DNA information with me the way my aunt Connee has. I also need to encourage my close relatives who have taken DNA tests to either share their raw DNA with me or to upload them to MyHeritage or DNA Painter. More to come on that process later.

If you have questions, suggestions or more information to share about chromosome mapping please let me know in the comments below. This looks like an interesting journey and I have just scratched the surface on learning about DNA results and how to use them.

01 May 2018

Family History at the Polynesian Cultural Center

My wife and I traveled to Hawaii for my 25th wedding anniversary. Neither of us had ever been to Hawaii so we decided to go to Oahu so we could see Pearl Harbor, the Laie Temple, and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). It was a relaxing vacation but I will spare you the slide show.

I was not sure what to expect at the PCC. When we arrived I had apparently paid for a tour, I am glad I did. Six different cultures are represented in separate island villages. In each village there is a cultural presentation. The presentations are given at different times. Our tour guide made sure we could visit as many presentations as possible before it was time for dinner and the main show. We visited the village islands of Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, and Aotearoa. Aoteroa is Maori for the land of the long white cloud also known as New Zealand.


I loved the Whare R┼źnanga or Meeting House the most. The house is a representation of an ancestor and different parts of the house represent parts of the ancestors body. The head is in front at the top and the rafters represent the backbone and ribs. Along the walls below the rafters are poupou panels.     


Each panel is hand carved to represent the lineage or ancestry of the person depicted. There were between twelve and twenty panels. One of the women who was part of the presentation pointed to one of the panels on the wall and told about her seventh great-grandfather who was depicted. They also said that some of the panels represent up to fifteen generations. Most of Polynesia has common ancestry but the Maori know their ancestry.


This all really struck a chord with me. I love how the culture is so focused on its ancestors. I feel a strong connection to Laie and now the PCC. Many visitors to Oahu are familiar with Laie if they have visited the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). This beautiful city on the north west side of Oahu is now home to over 7,000 residents, the PCC, LDS Temple, and BYU-Hawaii.

My second great-grandparents, Theodore Thaddeus Taylor and Martha Jane Johnson Taylor, were called on an LDS mission to serve in Laie, Hawaii in 1910. I have mentioned them in a previous post. In 1910 Laie was a small sugar and kalo plantation and location of the Hawaiian LDS Mission. It was five years before the temple would be announced and nine years before it was completed.



The early mission home is now located at the PCC. I did not expect to see it there. It struck me that my relatives had been there during their mission.


The above picture is from the mission home. My second great-grandfather is sitting in the back, second from the right.

Many of the Taylor's descendants have visited Oahu and Laie. My parents visited there when I was young. My grandparents visited there several times. In late 2003 my grandma Trotter was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma and given only a few months to live. She made plans and traveled to Oahu with my aunt and died just a few weeks after they returned home. I have always wanted to visit Hawaii but it wasn't until I was there that I realized why.