I’ve been working on keeping a Research Notebook based on a single surname. For example, I have an Excel Workbook with worksheets for 4 generations of my Smith line starting with my great-grandfather. Each family has a worksheet for their Research Plan and Inventory. I have a single worksheet to keep track of all Land Transactions for the Smith surname in the counties I am researching including siblings of my direct line ancestors.
Recently, I was asked about a way to keep track of DNA matches in my notebooks. This could be an additional worksheet within my workbook. My family is quite a tangled mess due to lots of intermarrying, so if I decide that I want to attempt this in my Smith notebook, I’ll probably have to come up with a 2 color system to show if a match is related in more than one way to explain why the cM numbers are so high. For this post, I thought I’d show an example of what I did for my son-in-law’s DNA matches.
What I’m doing is creating a “tree” of sorts. The top line shows the common ancestor that a group of matches has. The row below that has all of the children for that couple. I decided to go ahead and include all of the children instead of just the ones that have matches to save me a little time later on as more matches become available. (Although I do have some families that have more than a dozen kids and I might rethink how many to include for those lines!) Once children are entered, I merge all of the cells above into one wide cell to show that Oscar and Louise are the parents of all the cells in the next row.
When entering the 3rd generation, I insert columns to have enough for those kids and after entering the names, I merge the cells above those children into 1 parent cell. (I usually have more information in the cells like full names, relevant dates, etc. but I switched to initials for this example because some of these people are still living.)
I have also done with with 4 generations with even more DNA matches, but the chart becomes quite wide at that point, so I didn’t want to use that as my example.
When I find a DNA match, I include the number of centimorgans and I add color to a cell to see the matches quickly.
In my son-in-law’s case, we don’t know how he is related to this family. If we did, I would include his direct line all the way back to the common ancestor to help determine if a match is a 2nd cousin once removed, etc. I’d then confirm the relationship makes sense by using the free Shared cM tool found on the DNA Painter website.
I do like the idea of having everything possible about a surname available in one master workbook, so this may be something for me to consider as well!
Hello fellow Russell County researchers! Yesterday, I updated the links for land records, which you can find in the “Russell County Resources” tab at the top of the page. But I thought I’d post them here as well to give you a quick look. Everything below Deed Book S is a new link.
Russell County, Kentucky Deeds:
The left pages list Grantor (seller) to Grantee (buyer) and the right pages list Grantee from Grantor. Because of the tight binding in V. 1, it is sometimes difficult to read the information in the center of 2 pages. In cases where you cannot read a complete page number on the left page, it can be helpful to look for the same entry for the Grantee, which will be on a page on the right side.
These indexes are arranged loosely alphabetically. All the A’s (although not alphabetical within the A’s) then all of the B’s etc. Within each letter, records are listed in order by book. All of the A’s in book A in order, then all of the A’s in book B in order, etc.
I have found instances where the General Index is incorrect. The index with each book, when available, will be the most accurate. Each book’s index lists Grantor to Grantee, but not Grantee from Grantor. If you are looking for a deed where your ancestor is purchasing land, you may have better luck looking in the General Index.
Commissioner’s deed books 1-4, 1877 – 1945 – Book 1 – 1877 – 1888 – includes an index (nothing for letter A) – Book 2 – 1887 – 1912 – includes an index – Book 3 – 1912 – 1928 – includes an index – Book 4 – 1928 – 1945 – includes an index
I will have to be honest with you here. My life under quarantine is not THAT different from a typical day. I work from home anyway and work has dramatically slowed down, so I’ve got nothing but time to do research (and to disinfect, LOL!) The biggest difference is that I can’t visit with my kids here in town. Even that isn’t so different when it comes to my sons, who I don’t see quite as often, but I am used to seeing my daughter a couple of times a week. But she is 33 weeks pregnant, so we are taking no chances.
But what I’m finding is that my Genealogy ADD is worse than ever! Unless it’s a very hands-on task, like scanning negatives, I just cannot seem to keep myself from flying from project to project.
Early last week, when we started seeing all of the notices for archives and libraries closing down, I realized that it was only a matter of time before my local library would also close. There was 1 specific county whose records on FamilySearch could only be viewed from the library, so I took a day (and hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and my own wireless mouse and keyboard) and I went to the library and downloaded everything I could find for a specific surname. I didn’t read anything, I just downloaded.
Yesterday, I was transcribing some of the deed records. Some deeds gave me relationships, so I was adding my own notes at the end of a transcription to help me remember how people were related. After a couple of those, I decided that I needed to start a new group sheet for that family, which lead me to FamilySearch to give me a head start on information.
I was using Excel, so I decided that I not only needed a group sheet for the head of the family, but then I also needed to create a workbook of group sheets for each of his descendants so I would recognize children’s and grand-children’s names as the land passed from person to person. But that lead me to some probate records which I has downloaded – and oh, wasn’t there a new webinar I wanted to take a look at? But wait, I’ve got this stack of negatives and envelopes and work project stuff all over my desk, so I’d better straighten some stuff up. But first, I’d better get some meat out of my freezer so it will be ready for dinner tonight. And while I’m downstairs, I’ll start a load of laundry. But hey! Aren’t I supposed to be working on those biographies? …it goes on and on.
Now I know that this is a result of “stress” of not being able to leave the house. (Why is it that knowing that you’d CAN’T do something makes you want to do it even more???) We are quite lucky with the work situation that we are in and I am not a social butterfly, by any means, so I’m not bothered by staying home. So I’m not complaining, but I feel like I’m not taking good advantage of this time. I’ve decided to try making a list of 3 specific things I’d like to accomplish. How many negatives to scan? How many documents to transcribe? What is my ultimate research question? I HOPE that this will help my mind to settle and to begin to see that I really AM getting stuff accomplished. And I will tape this list to my monitor and any time I feel a need to zoom off to something else, I will look at my note and try to have some self control!
I hope you all are staying safe and healthy AND getting lots of extra research done! Who knows, maybe I’ll break through my brick wall before normal activities resume again!
It’s no secret that when it comes to organizing or keep track of genealogical information, my first thought is to use Excel. Each Excel worksheet has a different purpose. But for my latest project, I wanted all of the various worksheets to be easily and quickly located.
I’ve decided to try to collect information and write biographies for my “top 12” ancestral couples in preparation for a printed book to give to my children. I decided to begin with my Smith line because that line has been the focus of my research more than any other. When I began about 6 weeks ago, I was focusing on 1 ancestral couple at a time, beginning with my great-grandfather and working backward. But as I go through all of the records that I have and compare with what is now available online, I’ve decided that as long as I’m looking at indexes or going through a section, it will save me time in the long run to be on the lookout for all of my ancestors in the same line. Honestly, I keep getting pulled into the records for other members of this line anyway, so I feel like if I at least keep track of what I’m seeing as I go through these records, I can do a little better job of trying to focus on analyzing documents for one person at a time!
To be most efficient with this research plan, I’ve decided to consolidate all of my tracking forms for ancestors from a specific line into one “Smith” workbook. That meant starting with worksheets for 4 different families – Oliver, Elias, George, and John M. Smith. I have a Research Plan, Inventory Page 1, Inventory Page 2 and Land Sheet for each family. Four pages each for 4 ancestors led to a lot of tabs at the bottom of the screen once they were all combined into one workbook! And while it is nice to have them all in the same workbook, I need to have the smallest number of tabs possible to make it easier to find the relevant tab. So I began consolidating worksheets.
The first worksheet for a family is the Research Plan. I created these plans to be printed out, so when I look at them on my widescreen monitor, I have lots of extra space to the right of the Plan.
I decided that because the Plan is the place that I write my questions and steps I plan to take to find the answers to those question, this would also be a good place to keep my 15-minute biography. Excel doesn’t handle large amount of text easily, so I highlighted a huge chunk of cells on the right side of the Plan and merged them all and then copied the biography into that mega-cell. This didn’t help me with consolidating tabs, but it did help me with having all of the information that I’m using for this project into one research notebook. And rather than adding research questions in my biography each time I read it, I can add them directly to the Research Plan. I will probably be tweaking this as the biographies get longer, so this will be an interesting experiment.
I had two tabs per family for the Inventory. Just like the Research Plan, these sheets were created to be printed, so I had plenty of room on my computer screen on the right side of each inventory sheet, so I simply copied page 2 of the Inventory to be right next to page 1 of the Inventory.
I did have to do a couple of simple layout edits to make this work, but I actually ended up liking it better because I don’t have to click back and forth between tabs to see all of the information I’ve been collecting in these inventory sheets.
I can also customize these Inventories to help me collect as much information as possible in this one location. For example, because I now have the Research Plan in the same workbook as the Inventory, I don’t need a “To Do” section in the Inventory. Instead, I changed this section to be a list of Siblings and their spouses to help me notice possible relationships in Deeds and Tax Records. I also “compacted” my column for census records because no ancestor has an entry in every census year, although I created the sheet to have space for every census as well as state census records and non-population schedules, if desired. Once I was able to adjust the census section, that gave me room to include birth and death sections for the wife.
My final tab for each couple was to be the Land Record worksheet. I decided that it would be most helpful to have all of the land records for this surname together in one worksheet. This allows me to follow along when land is passed from father to son or when it is sold between siblings. I’ve decided to use colors in the cells to quickly distinguish between the generations because I do have multiple generations that used the same names for their sons.
After making these adjustments, I have gone from 16 total tabs in my workbook to 9 tabs. I have more information in the workbook now than I originally did, making it more useful while researching. I’m sure that as the project continues, I will continue to customize these sheets so that I am able to track all of the information of have found as well as keeping track of all of the locations that I have searched. Which hopefully saves me time and helps me to find every possible record that I can.
The last thing that I have started doing is to add a link to every document that I find so that if I have a question, I can quickly find the document with a single click.
If you’d like to download blank versions of these worksheets, you can find them all in the “Downloads” menu at the top of the page.