Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Let Me Introduce You To ... Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers

Thomas MacEntee

Let me introduce you to a man known in the industry as “The Genealogy Guy.” Thomas MacEntee's passion for genealogy runs deep. He is the founder of GeneaBloggers, High-Definition Genealogy Hack Genealogy

Thomas is well known in theindustry as a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and speaker. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Q&A With Thomas MacEntee How many years have you been involved in genealogy?

Thomas MacEntee: As a hobbyist, for over 20 years and as a professional, for 6 years. How did you first become involved?

Thomas: My great-grandparents who helped raise me first introduced me to family history through stories and through a written genealogy done in 1916. What do you love about family history?

Thomas: I love the stories and learning how my ancestors lived. What’s your favorite part of the search process?

Thomas: My favorite part is evaluating evidence - taking three or more different data points related to a fact such as a birth date and determining which ones fit the puzzle. What is your least favorite part of the genealogy process?

Thomas: My least favorite part is having to sift through erroneous information, especially from online trees and other platforms where the information is so easy to spread. What do you believe is the most difficult part of family history research?

Thomas: Being disciplined - taking your time, tracking information, maintaining good records and not allowing yourself to be distracted by "bright and shiny objects." How has genealogy changed your life?

Thomas: After a major career change and life interruption in 2008, I decided to pursue the genealogy field as a professional. I now own my own business and have become obsessed with building entrepreneurial skills and teaching them to others. If you could sit and chat with one ancestor who would it be?

Thomas: It would be my 9th great-grandfather Johannes Putman who arrived in New York in 1661 and was killed during the Schenectady Massacre.

You can find Thomas MacEntee at:

Join me next week for an interview with Mary Tedesco of Genealogy Roadshow!

~ Joy

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by Joy Neighbors © 2015,, All rights reserved

Friday, March 27, 2015

Top 5 Genealogy Software Programs For Under $40

genealogy, software, heredis, rootsmagic, legacy, family tree maker, family tree heritage
With the start of the second quarter of the year, we at begin, yet again, our quest for better ways to organize and improve our researching methods. There are a host of new genealogy products out there, so let’s start by taking a look at some of the latest software.Family Tree Maker 2014 ($39.99)  The always-popular Family Tree Maker makes creating and sharing your information simple and fun. Share, update, and sync your family tree from anywhere--all you need is an Internet connection. New for you: Family Views, better organizing tools, and improved report and chart options. Plus, you’ll get a 14-day free trial to 

  • Family Tree Maker 2014 ($39.99)  The always-popular Family Tree Maker makes creating and sharing your information simple and fun. Share, update, and sync your family tree from anywhere--all you need is an Internet connection. New for you: Family Views, better organizing tools, and improved report and chart options. Plus, you’ll get a 14-day free trial to 

  • Family Tree Heritage Platinum ($39.99)  This software is connected to one of the largest genealogy databases in the world, Plus, you can search directly in making searching for and locating records only a click away. New for you: Color Coding family lines, Tags, and an Interactive Research Timeline that uncovers events occurring during your ancestor’s lifetime.

  • Heredis 2014 ($39.99)  Developed in France, this genealogy program is available for Windows and Mac OS. The interface is modern, and accessible, allowing you to tailor the program to fit your needs. New for you: Extended Family and Migrations Map, two new views, and a Find Relationships search.

  • Legacy 8.0 Family Tree ($34.99)  Loaded with new features, Legacy 8.0 makes it easy to store all your genealogical information in one location. Navigation is easy and you can keep track of millions of people with just a few keys strokes. New for you: Origins Report, Migration Report, and Instant Duplicate Checking.

  • RootsMagic 7 ($29.95)  Great for everyone from beginners to experienced genealogists. RootsMagic Explorer makes genealogy easy, from locating an ancestor to editing a file. And, RootsMagic To Go allows you to pop your data onto a USB flash drive and access it on any computer. New for you: Automatic backup and restoring of your data, automatic online searches for ancestor matches, and data error warnings. RootsMagic 7 also runs on the MAC OS X operating system with MacBridge. 

But genealogists do not research by software alone: If there’s a lot of “heavy lifting” in your genealogical investigations, we’d be happy to assist you. With our foot-in-the-door access to thousands of libraries and archives around the world, can help you make your genealogy goals a reality. Fill out the form on our web page and we'll talk.
~ Joy
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by Joy Neighbors © 2015,, All rights reserved

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let Me Introduce You To ... D. Josh Taylor

Genealogist D. Joshua Taylor Interview
Photo credit: Genealogy Roadshow
When most people think of genealogy, they tend to think of an older demographic or those who have ample time on their hands to conduct family history research.

But genealogist and co-host of Genealogy Roadshow, D. Joshua Taylor, knows that these genealogical stereotypes are just that — stereotypes! In fact, this young genealogist started his genealogical studies at the tender young age of 10 and hasn’t looked back since. And he also knows plenty of other genealogists who don’t fit the normal genealogy stereotype.

Crestleaf recently interviewed Joshua to learn more about his personal genealogical journey (including the discovery of a famous distant cousin), his predictions in genealogical research advancements and even picked his expert brain for some family history research advice.

Q&A with D. Joshua Taylor

Crestleaf: Thanks for speaking with us today. First things first, you definitely don’t fit the mold of the stereotypical genealogist. What inspired you to start your genealogical studies at such a young age?

Josh: My grandmother was the source of my early genealogical inspiration. She was herself a genealogist, having started in the 1970s with her application to the Daughters of the American Revolution. She showed me a census when I was around 10 years old and presented a mystery at the same time. I was hooked from that point forward.

Crestleaf:  What is one surprising discovery you’ve uncovered while researching your family history?

Josh: One surprising discovery I keep making over and over is how small the world can be when you start to look at your family history. My research has taken me far beyond the United States – to places I never expected to be. Who knew that I would be crawling through probate records from India, finding direct ancestors in criminal transportation records from England to Australia, or realizing my Italian ancestors were really French Protestants who hid in the mountains of Northern Italy for many centuries?

Crestleaf: To you, what are the top three most important questions people should ask when conducting oral history interviews with their family members?

Josh: First, who was the oldest relative you knew; make that leap from one generation to another while you can. Second, ask them about their childhood – these are the clues and tidbits that we cannot readily find in existing records. Finally, ask them about a memory of yourself – too often we fail to document our own stories.

“I have met so many genealogists who do not fit the normal demographic of what one would perceive to be a genealogist. Family history can strike at any age, and at any time.”

Crestleaf:  What is one big misconception about the genealogy community that you’ve found to be untrue?

Josh: Age. I have met so many genealogists who do not fit the normal demographic of what one would perceive to be a genealogist. Family history can strike at any age, and at any time. While the younger generations might not involve themselves in the pursuit of their past on a daily basis, they are taking advantage of modern-day tools to engage with the past.

Crestleaf:  What is the best advice you can give someone who is hitting a genealogy brick wall?

Josh: Take a break and look at the problem through a different lens. Sometimes we get so focused on breaking through a specific brick wall that we make certain assumptions or miss important clues in the process. It is fine to put the files away for a bit and come back with a fresh pair of eyes.
CL: In your opinion, what is the most underutilized genealogy tool?

D. Joshua Taylor on Genealogy Roadshow
Photo credit:
Josh: Genealogical societies. They offer in-person connections, great research help, and unbeatable local knowledge.

Crestleaf:  What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your personal genealogical research?

Josh: Tracing a circus performer, who traveled under multiple names and all sorts of variations. Never seemed to make the census and spent his lifetime traveling the globe between 1850 and 1870.

Crestleaf:  Can you tell us about one of the most interesting family stories from your time on ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

Josh: The first episode I was involved in was the series premiere with Sarah Jessica Parker. I had discovered that we were actually cousins on another line and couldn’t wait to tell her. While that never made the show, it was fun meeting another cousin and introducing them to our shared ancestry. The sheer excitement of family history touches so many, and it was apparent that she was enjoying her experience.

Crestleaf:  What is your favorite part about hosting ‘Genealogy Roadshow?’

Josh: I love the diversity of the stories we tackle on the show. It shows that family history isn’t for a specific group, but really is for everyone. Some laugh, some cry, but all walk away with a new memory and a different view of themselves after learning about their past.

“We need companies and organizations that are looking forward to what genealogists will need in 20 or 30 years…”

Crestleaf:  What are your predictions for genealogical research advancements over the next five to ten years?

Josh: For one, we are going to master the ability to read handwriting through technology. This is really going to open up the amount of records for the general public. Think of the vast answers and stories in land and probate records that are handwritten? The collections of letters that mention a neighbor or friend? Unlocking that will be a huge key.

From a technology standpoint, I am eager to see what happens when family history meets the wearables market. What will it be like to carry your entire family tree around on your watch? What does the industry look like when tools push results, cousins, and all sorts of connections to you rather than requiring a search? While the principle methodologies behind a solid genealogical search are unwavering, the tools will continue to shape what can be found.

Crestleaf: What is one thing you’d change about the current state of the genealogy industry?

Josh: More diversity and more startups aiming to grow the market. We need companies and organizations that are looking forward to what genealogists will need in 20 or 30 years and who will open doorways to change demographics across the globe.

Crestleaf: What’s the next year look like for you, Josh? Any big genealogy plans for 2015?

Josh: Well, there are a few big plans that I can’t yet disclose, but it will be a busy year. I have a goal to write more, and I want to finally start a book on my circus ancestor (it is time to start writing!).

More about D. Joshua Taylor: D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College. Joshua is a nationally-recognized genealogical author, lecturer and researcher who stays active in the genealogical community. He is the current President for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the former Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Joshua is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit, and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society. In addition to co-hosting ‘Genealogy Roadshow‘, he was also a featured genealogist on NBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?‘.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Buried Treasure in Land Records

Land Records, Deeds, Genealogy, Family History
While land records are not an obvious source of family history, they can provide valuable clues to an ancestor’s wealth and status, military service, migration patterns, family inheritances, and direct relationships.

Owning land was a good indication of an ancestor’s wealth. Many immigrants came to America with the dream of achieving this goal. The more land an individual owned, the wealthier they could become. With wealth, an increase in status generally followed. For many immigrants, the dream of owning land in their native countries was nonexistent. The middle and working classes, peasants, and the younger sons of land owners never had the opportunity to own land until they came to America. Land provided a level of self-sufficiency and security many immigrants had never known. In contrast, the lack of land ownership can indicate an ancestor’s lower social class and wealth.

One way of earning land was through military service. Between the years, 1775-1855, the United States government encouraged volunteer enlistments and rewarded military service by granting land warrants. Soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, as well as several other military conflicts were eligible to receive land warrants. There are many different sources for discovering whether or not your ancestor received a military land grant. The first step is to determine if your ancestor served in the military. With the availability of military pension records from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 on websites such as Fold3, it is becoming easier to find a military ancestor.

During the nineteenth century, western expansion of the United States created more opportunities for land ownership. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed any adult citizen to claim 160 acres of land, provided they remained on the land for five years. Many took the deal and moved west. Several homesteading acts followed: the Southern Homestead Act of 1866, the Timber Culture Act of 1873, and the Kincaid Amendment (1904). If your ancestor migrated west to states such as Kansas or Nebraska, perhaps they benefited from one of these Homesteading Acts.

Land Records, Family History, Deeds, Genealogy, Research Tip
In some cases, the best part about using land records is finding evidence of familial relationships. Parents often deeded land parcels to their children, or even to their grandchildren. Occasionally, aged parents gave away land before their deaths to avoid the probate process or as a wedding gift when grown children were married. This would ensure that the land stayed in the family for future generations as well as keeping children (and grandchildren) close by.

While Family Search has a wonderful collection of land deeds online, not all states are available. Eventually, the collection will be expanded. Currently, over a third of the United States is not represented. Some states such as Indiana or Nebraska, which played a huge role in various periods of western expansion, military land grants and homesteading, are yet to be digitized. The records are available only on microfilm or through local archives. The states whose land records are available are not indexed and must be browsed individually. Luckily, has a network of professional genealogists and researchers who can track down land records and related documents wherever they may be found. What buried genealogical treasure is waiting for you in a land record?

by Deborah Sweeney © 2015,, All rights reserved

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Let Me Introduce You To ..., Crestleaf, Jim Heddell, InterviewEver wondered just what does? Find out in this Crestleaf interview with company founder and president, Jim Hedell. 
 Learn how we got started, why you might consider hiring a professional genealogist, and what our experts do. 

The advantage includes easier access to offline records (Did you know that 90% of all records are not available online?) and an in-depth knowledge of genealogical research methods, thanks to over 1,000 researchers located all over the globe. When we say we’re the largest family history firm in the world, we mean it!
Read the interview here and let us know how we can help you break down your brick wall. 

Happy researching!

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  © 2015,, All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How to Find Your Irish Ancestors

Happy St Patrick's Day!

For the 33.3 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry, it can be an overwhelming task to sift through the plentiful Irish genealogy and family history resources available on and offline. In the spirit of Irish-American Heritage Month, we’ve decided to offer up a helping hand in your big Irish family research by compiling a list of 70 Irish ancestry resources so you can fill in some genealogy research gaps, and discover new Irish family stories that might be missing from your family tree.

From Irish surnames, to genealogy libraries and immigration records, it’s likely you’ll find a long lost Irish ancestor by utilizing the following resources.

Irish Ancestry Resources

Irish Census Records

Irish Vital Records

Irish Wills

Irish Church Records

Irish Military Service Records

Irish Immigration Records & Passenger Lists

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Irish Surname Search & Meanings

Irish Newspaper Online Collections

Irish Genealogy Libraries & Archives

 Irish Graveyards, Monuments & Tombstones

Irish Tombstone
Photo credit: IGP Archives

Irish Genealogical Societies & Associations

Additional Irish Ancestry Resources

  Article originally published by our friends at  Crestleaf
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Friday, March 13, 2015

Our Ancestors and Superstitions About Death

Today is Friday the 13th, a day that many of our ancestors believed brought about bad luck. But it wasn’t just Friday the 13th that was feared; a person’s demise was full of superstitions and folklore, especially for the Victorians. In fact, some of these superstitions are still with us today …

General Death Superstitions
Death comes in threes.

If a broken clock begins to chime, there will be a death in the house.

Hearing three knocks when no one is there indicates that someone close to you just died.

If a picture falls off of the wall, someone you know will die.

At Home
You must stop the clock in the room where a person has died so the soul can move on to the afterlife.

Cover all of the mirrors in the house where someone dies so the deceased’s spirit does not become trapped in one.

The body must be removed from the house feet first so the deceased cannot “look back” and take others with them.

It is bad luck to lock the door of your house after the funeral procession has left.

During the Funeral
Never wear anything new to a funeral.

A funeral held on Friday may result in another death in the family during the same year.

A woman should be buried in black or she may return to haunt the family.

Close the eyes of the dead or they may “look” for someone to take with them.

On The Way
It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession coming toward you.

Don’t count the number of vehicles in a funeral procession or bad luck will follow you.

Never point at a funeral cortege or you will die within a month.

Never whistle past a graveyard; you will summon the devil.

In The Cemetery
If you place something of yours in the coffin, the deceased will come back for you.

If rain falls during a funeral, the deceased will go to heaven.

If you hear thunder after the burial, the soul has reached heaven.

If nothing grows on a grave, it indicates an unkind or evil person buried there.

Do you know of other superstitions? Share them with us below.

~ Joy

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by Joy Neighbors © 2015,, All rights reserved

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