120 Years Ago Today – Feb. 9, 1898

A continuing feature on the blog for 2018 is be a series called “120 Years Ago Today”. I’m collecting newspaper clippings relevant to Russell County from The Adair County News in the year 1898. I hope you find some surprises to add to your family tree!

I’ll be doing a bit of digital cleanup on the files to remove streaks and scratches, but you can download the original file from the link. Right-click on my image to save the cleaned-up version. I also plan to include a list of names mentioned in the articles at the end of the blog post to make it possible to find with an internet search.

Here’s the link to this edition of the newspaper. Link

Adair County News, Page2, 1898-02-09 Jamestown

A.H. Holt, E.G. Atkins, W.F. Rowe, Mrs. Texas Rowe, N.H.W. Aaron, Miss Burton, Mr. Anderson, J. Shelby Rowe, O.B. Vaughan, W.S. Stone, Abner Jones, Jamestown




Making a Snow Plan?

If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, you are probably looking at some decent snow amounts tonight or tomorrow morning. What does that mean?

School delays? Working from home in the morning? Staying in tomorrow night?

Let’s say you have an extra hour that you weren’t planning on. What will you work on? Make a plan tonight so you’ll be ready to use every spare minute tomorrow!

I work from home, but I’m making a plan for tomorrow night. I recently received an email with multiple generations of a family line that is connected to my husband’s line – but I’m having a hard time understanding the relationships. I will be building a tree on Ancestry with the information I received. I will see if I can confirm what has been told to me (there are no sources) and then see if I can find the connection. This will either be a complete bust…or an incredible breadcrumb trail that could lead to a goldmine. Fingers crossed!

Start dreaming! What could you accomplish in an hour?

Don’t have Excel?

Today, I had a question from Susan. “If I don’t have excel on my computer, can I still use [the Ancestor Inventory Form]?”

The answer is yes! All you need is a free Google account.

Everyone with a Google account has access to 15GB of storage for e Mail, Photos and Drive. I use Google Drive to keep all of my genealogy files and I can’t imagine not having it. If you’re not using Google Drive, I’ve talked about how I organize all of my files with it here.

Even if you don’t have Excel, go ahead and download the file. If your computer is like mine, it will go directly to your downloads folder. From there, upload the file to your Google Drive account. When you double click the file, Drive will ask if you want to open the file using Google Sheets. Click that button and viola! You can use the file!


A hint about printing. When you try to print a sheet from Google Drive, it doesn’t quite fit on one page. I think that’s due to fonts, but there’s an easy way to make it work without having to do a bunch of editing to the file.

I use Ctrl+P to print. You will see a preview of the sheet and some formatting options to the right. You will notice that that the bottom of the form wants to move to a 2nd page. To fix this, simply change the 100% to lower number and everything will fit just fine. I don’t know if every system is the same, but on my system, to print a Page 1 (census tracker) I had to reduce to 93%. To print a Page 2 (records tracker) I only had to reduce to 99%.


If you already have a Google account but you’re new to using Drive, begin by going to Google.com. In the upper, right corner, click on the 3×3 grid of squares and then select “Drive” from the menu.


File UploadIn the upper left corner, you will click on “New” and then select “File Upload”. Find the Excel file in your downloads folder and click “Open”. Google Drive will upload and keep the file for you to access from any computer as soon as you log into your Google account.

When you try to open the file the first time, you will be asked if you want to open it with Google Sheets. Once you do that, Drive will keep both version available in your list of documents. You can tell which version to click on in the future by looking at the icons. The Excel file that you originally uploaded will have an icon that looks like a large X. The Google Sheets version has a green spreadsheet icon.


To rename the document (so you can have a different file for different ancestors) click on the name of the file in the upper left corner while the document is open and change the name.


You can also change the name from the main menu of Drive. Just right-click on the file name and select “Rename” from the pop-up menu.











Playing the Name Game

Yesterday, I posted a “Snack” about coming up with a naming template for digital file names. When coming up with your system, be sure to think of all of the information that you might ever need in the file name. Make sure your template will work with all types of records – photographs, downloaded documents, Word docs, etc.

My template: Year County State SourceInfo Page Name (identifier)

Here are some naming hints I’ve learned the hard way:

  • County name is not enough. I have spent years researching Russell County so why would I ever need any information on location beyond that? Well, when I started emailing my DNA matches and asking about Russell County, I started getting responses about Russell County, VIRGINIA instead of Kentucky. I knew then that I needed to go back through all of my files and adding “KY” to the names so that  who other people who received my files would not be confused.
  • Think about multiple people with the same name. Families tend to use the same names through the generations. Like I mentioned yesterday, I have 2 brothers in my tree named George and Elias Smith. George had a son named Elias and Elias had a son named George. I must be able to tell the men apart when looking at the file names. That’s when I started using identifiers. Usually, I use (birth year – death year). So I have Elias Smith (1810 – 1853) and Elias Smith (1845 – 1885). In another example, I have a group of 5 men named “John Smith” in Mercer County, Kentucky, all in the same time period. Luckily, in a tax records, there are a times that occupations or nicknames were given. I use those as identifiers, when I have the information.
  • Keep it consistent. As I was getting used to my system, I used “Russell County KY” for some files and “Russell Co KY” for others. Make a decision before you get going. It is much easier to notice “abnormalities” when all of the file names follow the same format.
  • Page numbers are important. If I have multiple deeds for the same person in the same deed book, I could run into several files with the exact same name. I can also use the information to create source citations without opening the file. If you run into a source that didn’t have page numbers (loose papers, un-numbered certificates, etc), consider adding image numbers instead. For example: 1862 Russell Co KY Marriage Records Book 3 FamilySearch Image 124 John Smith and Sally Jones.


Using my system, all of the records appear in chronological order – that gives me a timeline showing where each ancestor was. It’s not unusual to see when county boundaries changed or when a family moved. Depending on how I organize files within my folders, I can see where every person in a family is located at the same time – without opening a single file.

If a “stray” county appears where it wasn’t expected, that’s the abnormality part. Either I have a record that isn’t my family, or I have a county that I need to do additional research in. Perhaps a family member moved there. Do I know why?

Here is my example. Russell County was formed at the end of 1825. Notice that in the image below, the records change from Wayne County to Russell County around that same time. Assuming the family didn’t move, I can narrow down a person’s location within the county based on the boundary line changes.


Whatever template you decide to use, nail down your details and use little bits of “snack time” to confirm that all of your file names follow it.

Genealogy Snack #4

Create a “template” that you will use for naming your digital files.

When I first started working on my family history research, I had a folder for each person and I was happy with file names like “1850 census”. But as my files grew and I wanted to share information with other genealogists, I quickly saw the flaws in my “system”.

Again, you can turn to Google to see many examples. I’d say that most people start their file names with Lastname_firstname. But I would run into problems pretty quickly with 2 brothers who each named a child after the other brother and other similar examples.

I am a very visual person. When I came up with my file naming system, I not only wanted a “template” so that I could find a file quickly, but I wanted a system that would help me see patterns or abnormalities. I wanted a system that could be a visual “timeline” without the need to actually open a file. Here is my template:

Year County State SourceInfo Page Name (identifier)


As you are moving files into your Digital Folders, make sure that all of your files follow your updated “template”.

120 Years Ago Today – Feb. 2, 1898

A continuing feature on the blog for 2018 is be a series called “120 Years Ago Today”. I’m collecting newspaper clippings relevant to Russell County from The Adair County News in the year 1898. I hope you find some surprises to add to your family tree!

I’ll be doing a bit of digital cleanup on the files to remove streaks and scratches, but you can download the original file from the link. Right-click on my image to save the cleaned-up version. I also plan to include a list of names mentioned in the articles at the end of the blog post to make it possible to find with an internet search.

Here’s the link to this edition of the newspaper. Link

Adair County News, Page2, 1898-02-02 Jamestown

Judge Crisp, Rev. Zach Williams, Dr. Baugh, S.A. Simpson, H.C. Hackman, J.E. Hays, Rev. T.C. Winfrey, Julia Wolford, Mrs. E.L. Sinclair, W.L. Dowell, N.H.W. Aron, Judge Falkenburg, W.S. Knight, B. Blair, Jamestown, Kimble


Many genealogists follow the 3-2-1 plan when it comes to keeping their genealogy research safe. 3 copies on 2 different media (DVD/external/cloud) with 1 copy off-site. Since cloud storage can help us check off a section in all 3 parts, it’s a great idea to start there.

I don’t want to spend a ton of time talking about which Cloud service to use. I’ll just list basic information for what I think of as the top 3 services:

  • Dropbox – 2GB of free storage with the ability to earn up to 16GB by completing various tasks.
  • Google Drive – 15GB of free storage
  • OneDrive – 5 GB of free storage

I actually have all 3 of these on my PC. All 3 have apps that I have on my iPad so I can access my files on the go.

I have 2 Dropbox accounts – one for my business and one for my genealogy. My laptop is synced with my business account, so I don’t usually use that for genealogy, but that was my very first toe dip into saving to the cloud. It was the way that I could access my genealogy files from school during my lunch break.

Long ago, I began using SkyDrive, which later became OneDrive.

When I came up with my current digital folder system, I began using Google Drive because it had more free storage than any other system – and because I could get an additional 15GB just by using a different gmail address. I have one gmail address for all of my husband’s family research and a different gmail address for my family.

I would move files one-by-one from my OneDrive folders to my new folders in Google Drive and I would rename each file using my updated naming system for every record as it was being added. After a file was moved, it was deleted from OneDrive so that I could keep track of where I was. As I got close to the “end” of these files, I opened another folder that only had a date on it and discovered…duplicates of everything I had just moved! So now I think of that as the backup to my backup. I know it’s silly, but I just can’t bring myself to delete them all again – just in case.

My cloud accounts shows up in my computer Explorer just like any other file folder. I don’t even have to have internet connection to access the files. But you do have to have connection to sync your files in the cloud. Whenever I work on my research, I always work directly from these folders so that everything is automatically updated.

Now let’s think about the 3…2…1 plan.

3 copies – You hate to think about it, but in the event of a fire/flood/tornado, how much of your research would you lose? Perhaps a good plan would be to have a paper copy, a cloud copy and a copy on an external drive.

2 different devices – if your computer fails/crashes, where else would you look? You should have a backup on a different device like an external drive or a cloud account. But what’s the difference between using an external drive and a cloud account? The difference is that you usually have to initiate a backup to an external drive – perhaps on the first of every month. A good cloud account will update every record as soon as you save it.

1 copy off-site. I think this really used to be more of an issue for me with paper copies. Now, I tend to think of my photographs. When my children were little, I always got double prints when I’d get my film developed. My mom always got one set. If you have your research in the cloud, you can consider that to be “off-site”.

If you don’t already have a cloud account that you keep your research in, this might be a good time to consider which service would work best for you!

Genealogy Snack #3

Make an outline of your ideal digital file system.

It doesn’t matter if you use a word processor or a scrap of paper. If you already have a system, would you change anything? If you don’t have a system, think about how your brain processes information best and come up with a system that would work best for you.

Some people organize their files by record type: Birth records, Marriage records, Probate records, etc. Some people organize by locations. Some people keep all of their genealogy records in 1 folder and they rely on their file names to find what they are looking for. I think one of the fastest ways to see a variety of organization systems is to Google “Genealogy Folder Organization” and then look at the images. You can get a pretty good idea of the system by looking at the images. If you see something interesting, visit the site.

Here’s my folder system:

My folders are based on my 5-Gen chart. I know that my computer is going to alphabetize my folders, so for this “top” layer of folders, I add numbers so that the folders are listed in the same order as my 5-Gen chart when I read the great-grandparents column from top to bottom. I include the mother’s maiden name as well:





If I were to write an outline for one of my surname folders, it would look like this:

  • 1 – Smith-Ellis Research
    • Excel – any Excel databases I’ve created
    • Group Sheets – fewer clicks to keep here than with each person
    • Notes – fewer clicks to keep here
    • People
      • 1 – Herman Smith (1912 – 1985) – all would follow this format
        • Children
          • 1 – Don
          • 2 – Barbara
          • 3 – Jack
          • 4 – Phyllis
          • 5 – Betty
      • 2 – Oliver Smith (1872 – 1950)
      • 3 – Elias Smith (1845 – 1885)
      • 4 – George Smith (1805 – 1890)
      • 5 – John M. Smith (1775 – 1835)
      • 6 – Peter Ellis (1765 – 1837)
      • 7 – Edmond Ellis (xxxx – xxxx)
      • Andrew Meadows (1791 – 1873) – This is a FAN, therefore not numbered
      • Elias Smith (1810 – 1853) – This is a collateral line
    • Places* – Anything related to history or research aids and files not connected to a specific person
      • Barren County KY
        • Court Records
        • Deeds and Land Records
        • Tax Records
        • Vital Records
          • Birth Records
          • Marriage Records
          • Death Records
      • Mercer County KY
        • Court Records
        • Deeds and Land Records
        • Tax Records
        • Vital Records
          • Birth Records
          • Marriage Records
          • Death Records
      • Additional Counties would follow the same pattern

*Places – I tend to collect a lot of records “in bulk”. For example, when I am just beginning to research in a specific place, I like to collect everything I can that contains the same surname. This was especially true when I was ordering microfilm and only had access to it for a limited time. And even now, I always download whenever I can because you just don’t know that a record set will be available forever. I feel like as long as I’m taking the time to find these records, I’d rather collect everything at the same time as opposed to realizing later that I was looking at a sibling’s records and I didn’t know it. So I will have a folder of all the tax records I’ve downloaded, all the marriage records I’ve downloaded, all the deeds I’ve downloaded, etc. But if a record is for a specific ancestor, then it goes into their “People” folder. I also use the “Places” folder for potential connections. For example, I believe that my Smith line came through Mercer County, Kentucky, but so far I have not found the proof that I need to confirm that. Those files go in the Places folder.

Making an outline and actually organizing your files are two very different things, I know. But often, the hardest step is the first step. Make a plan and let your brain mull it over for a few days. As you create or modify different documents for your research, it is very helpful to be able to include a clickable link to take you directly to the document being reference. If you move the document after that, the link will be broken.

So here we are at the end of January. I’d like to include an updated list of Snacks at the end of each month so that they are easy to find.

Snack #1 – Make a plan for Christmas Gifts 2018
Snack #2 – Download or Create a Research Plan
Snack #3 – Make an outline of your ideal Digital File system

120 Years Ago Today – Jan. 26, 1898

A continuing feature on the blog for 2018 is be a series called “120 Years Ago Today”. I’m collecting newspaper clippings relevant to Russell County from The Adair County News in the year 1898. I hope you find some surprises to add to your family tree!

I’ll be doing a bit of digital cleanup on the files to remove streaks and scratches, but you can download the original file from the link. Right-click on my image to save the cleaned-up version. I also plan to include a list of names mentioned in the articles at the end of the blog post to make it possible to find with an internet search.

Here’s the link to this edition of the newspaper. Link

Adair County News, Page2, 1898-01-26 Jamestown

Adair County News, Page3, 1898-01-26 Leach

E.G. Atkins, Ed Stone, Willie Warren, G.F. Jones, Lizzie Adams, R.R. Rowe, T.R. Morrison, V. Dockery, Lee Robinson, Doc Barnes, J.E. Hays, W.F. Rowe, Mrs. Texas Rowe, Stanley Baugh, Elder Collins, Ben F. Leach, Van Wilburn, Jamestown, Creelsboro

Creating Research Plans for 2018

Why create a Research Plan? What does it look like? Would taking the time to create a Research Plan really help my research? In my experience – it’s a tremendous help!

A Research Plan is a place to organize your thoughts and to keep track of research that you have already done or hope to do in the future. It becomes my “brain” when I haven’t been able to research a certain ancestor in a significant length of time. What was I working on? Where have I looked and what did I find? What was I hoping to look at next?

My Research Plan is different from a Research Log. Go ahead and Google “Genealogy Research Log” and you’ll see what I mean. To me, the forms seems difficult to read. I need a form that works with the way that I think. What is my question, where have a looked? What did I find there? What do I still need to look for? I only have a short amount of time…what’s in the plan that I can work on quickly?

For me, the beauty of a Research Plan is being able to think about what I want to search BEFORE I actually start searching. I spend time every week surfing online for information on my ancestors, but it’s pretty rare that I get to spend a significant amount of time at the library. I know that there are things available at the library that aren’t available to me at home – including websites that the library pays for that I can use while I’m there. It’s wonderful to have a place that I can keep track of questions as they come up while I’m researching at home. It’s wonderful to have a place to keep track of which books or databases I want to look at when I DO get a chance to go to the library. And going to the library is usually a last minute, “Hey! I’ve got a free afternoon, so I’m heading to the library” kind of thing, so it’s wonderful to have a plan with book titles and call numbers that’s waiting for me so that I can jump right in as soon as I get there.

This is what one of my Research Plans looks like.


Click  here to download the file if you’d like to experiment with it as you read.

I use Excel for my Research Plan, but I don’t have the grid lines turned on for printing. That makes it look a little more like a Word doc. I use Excel instead of Word because I can have a tab for each Ancestor within the same surname group. So if I’m researching John Smith and I come across a hint for his son, George, then I can easily click over to his Plan and enter that new hint along with any questions it raises or ideas of where else I might need to look. I don’t have to stop my train of thought for my research on John, I can just enter the info in George’s form and then go back to what I was doing for John.

I use the top part of my Plan to keep track of Vital Statistics information so I don’t have to stop and look it up. Then there’s a “timeline” of counties lived in based on census records, but I can add additional information below to give some specific dates.

The Research Plan we be great for the “Genealogy Snacks” I’ll be writing about. It’s prefect to use it in short periods of free time. I keep it in my Google Drive so I can access it from anywhere, including on my iPad. I can spend time just coming up with questions. Or I can spend time making a list of resources that I want to check out when I have more time. These sources might be books that I found on my local library’s web site or they might be microfilms that are now available on the FamilySearch web site. I can even include reminders to go back and check FamilySearch if the film I want isn’t available yet. If I don’t have time to go and look for a specific record online, I can at least try to find a link to add which will take me to the record source later when I have more time.

I also love knowing that I can hide lines within the document. When I’m ready to work on a specific question, I can un-hide those lines only. This helps me to think about just 1 question at a time. Here’s how this file looks with the lines below each question hidden.


Notice the FAN list at the bottom. I can include whatever type of information that I want in the Plan. Want to have a list of links to each census record for this ancestor? Include that! Want to include a list of children and in-laws? Include that!

So let’s go over a few quick things if you aren’t familiar with Excel.

To add color to a cell (such as in the timeline at the top):


  • Click inside of the cell to highlight it.
  • From the “Home” tab, either use the color samples in the Styles section or click on the paint bucket and select a color from the drop down menu.

To hide a line (or lines):


  • Click on the number on the left side of the desired line. If you want to hide multiple lines, click on the top number and drag your cursor down to the last line you want to hide. This will highlight everything that will be hidden – in this example, I’ll hide lines 52 – 58.
  • Right click and select “Hide” from the menu.

To unhide the lines:


  • Click on the line numbers above  and below the lines you wish to reveal. In this example, I’ve clicked on line 51 and dragged my cursor to line 59.
  • Right click and  select “Unhide” from the menu.

Did you also know that you can Hide and Unhide tabs? I’m not sure why you’d want to, but it’s nice to know that you could! Just right click on a tab and use the menu that pops up. Hiding a tab is easy, but if you want to unhide it, right click on any tab and click “Unhide”. A list of all hidden tabs will pop up and you can select the tab you want to reveal from the list.

To insert a weblink:

Insert Link

  • Find the web page and copy the address at the top of the screen.
  • Click in the cell you want to add a link to. (You add links to cells, not to text.)
  • In the Insert tab at the top of the screen, click on “Link” and then paste the web address that you copied.

If you think this might help you with your research, feel free to download the file here!