GenDetective and new WWII Draft Registration Cards

Recently, Fold3, released a new collection of WWII Draft Registration Cards, basically for the “younger” men.  The collection is not yet complete, only draft cards for men in 21 states are available.  This collection will continue to receive updates for some time.

How can you generate a list of the men from your family that you would expect to find in these draft registration cards since GenDetective doesn’t know about this new collection?  The answer is simple:  you can define this new collection for GenDetective!  In GenDetective v2, take the following steps:

GenDetective Program Options

  1. Launch GenDetective
  2. Go to the Configuration menu, and select Program Options.
  3. In the GenDetective Options panel, check Show power user options and press OK.
  4. You may notice some additional tab views and menu options.
  5. Go to the Configuration menu, and select Military Conflicts.
  6. Press the New button (has a green leaf on it) and provide a name for this new draft.  Suggested title: World War II Draft (USA, Younger)
  7. Fill out the remaining fields for this new WWII draft as  you see on the screen shot below.  Most people do not have the custom tag WW2_Draft in their family trees, so you can leave this field set to the default of “No event associated with this conflict”.
  8. Press the Save Changes button.

Definition for new Fold3 WWII Draft Registration Cards


GenDetective will prompt you to consider sharing the new definition with the wider community, but you can ignore this prompt.  Next GenDetective will prompt you to analyze your tree.  You will need to take this step by pressing the Yes button as this enable GenDetective to identify the men in your family that would have registered with this new draft.

After the analysis of your tree, you can get a list of the young men by going to Reports By Task, selecting What information should I research, then Possible military service, and selecting report Who may have served in this war?  For the Military conflict drop down, select the newly defined World War II Draft (USA, Younger), and press Generate report.  Your report should look something like this:

GenDetective Military Service Report for new WWII Draft Cards

Happy hunting, and remember the collection isn’t complete yet!

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GenDetective v3: Different Screen Sizes

One of our top goals for GenDetective v3 is to run and display well on different size computer screens.  Over the last several years technology has changed (yea!) and we now have a wider variety of screen sizes on tablet computers, small laptops, all of which can connect to external monitors frequently running up to 27 inches in size.

In the current version of GenDetective there is a known issue when running on the smaller high-resolution screens where the default magnification is 150%.  The text overlaps itself and the software is difficult to use.  The workaround in GenDetective v2 is to change the scaling so that the words are smaller, which makes them more difficult to see.

We have redesigned the user interface in GenDetective v3 so that you have more screen real estate and you can now select your own font sizes.  When on small devices you will have the flexibility to control how much information is displayed your screen.

This second screen shot was captured on the exact same computer, with no changes to the computers screen resolution.  Instead we asked GenDetective to use much larger text (size 5), and we hid the right section of the program!
You control the text size you want, based on the screen you are using, big or small, high-resolution or low by using the Program Options screen.  It shows you the different size text and you make your selection.  When you run GenDetective on a different computer, or move the program to an attached monitor, simply adjust the text size.  It’s that simple.

GenDetective v3 Program Options

GenDetective v3 Program Options


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Is there going to be a GenDetective version 3?

Yes, we are busy working on GenDetective v3!  When will it be available?  The short answer is, we don’t know for sure.  Our best guess, at this time, is in the Fall of 2017.

What’s going to be in it?  Our feature list will be a “slow reveal”, with information being announced as we complete the new features.  However, we have several goals for this release that I can share, and will discuss in more detail over the next several posts.

Our must have features:

  1. Redesign the user interface so that it runs well on screens both big and small, at various resolutions (think 10 inch Surface Pro screen) as well as 27 inch monitors
  2. Remove the Microsoft Access report engine that has caused so many installation issues while retaining our full featured, nicely laid out reports.
  3. Mac support — By doing the first two items above, our hope is that we will be able to run natively on a Mac, similar to other genealogy software.  This is a big question mark, and we are not to the testing point yet, but our hope is that we will be able to run on the Mac without requiring Windows!  This is not a promise.  Please understand we are a very small company but we are shooting for this goal.
  4. Additional enhancements to be announced as we complete these exciting new features!

Now for the bad news.  As Microsoft and other technology companies have done away with support for Windows XP and Windows Vista, we will be doing the same.  It is the removal of support for XP that has allowed us to move onto newer (free) technology for reporting that allows us to achieve reports that look the same as always, but are created using a different tool set.

We look forward to bringing the next version of GenDetective to you soon!

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We’re Related App Milestone — 100 Matches!

Sounds promising, right? The We’re Related app has suggested 100 possible cousins for my daughters. How good of a job is the app really doing?

Milestone: 100 We're Related Matches

Milestone: 100 We’re Related Matches

From the pie chart you can see that there are:

  • 33: Matches
  • 04: Possible matches
  • 17: Highly doubtful
  • 46: Not a match

One of the things I’ve noticed is that many of the poor matches revolve around a couple of “common” research mistakes.

  • Albert Cunningham (15 matches) – my Albert’s mother is Mary (Polly) Clawson, with absolutely no doubt, but the suggestion is his mothers name is Rebecca Beatty.
  • Andrew Beatty (14 matches) – this line has a fair amount of uncertainty, with unknown parents for Andrew in Northern Ireland.  However, the suggested lines have a few private people in them and parents born after children, making these lines of research easy to dismiss.
  • Peter Shaffer (10 matches) – this is a line that has a great deal of uncertainty, but the suggested line on all matches includes a mother who was born 16 years after her daughter!
  • John Silvius (6 matches) – there is a common mixup in public trees that John and Jonas are the same person.  It has been conclusively proven that they are 2 different men (with different parents), but there may be a relationship several generations prior (landing these matches are in the doubtful category).
  • Elizabeth Barnhart (5 matches) – her mother is Anna Maria Kocher, not Anna Margaret Spangler.  They is an Elizabeth Barnhart whose mother is Anna Margaret Spangler, but she isn’t my Elizabeth.

When balancing the scales, I have 33 really great, solid matches, some of these famous people I wish to claim, some I don’t and 6 of the ones I am claiming are Facebook cousins.  In the end despite a 1 out of 3 hit rate, I believe the We’re Related app makes is a worthwhile tool that I will continue to use.

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2016: The Year I Broke Thru 2 Genealogy Brick Walls!

At the end of each year, I look back at my research and celebrate my research progress, and what at fantastic year 2016 was. For the second year in a row, I did not disown anyone!  I broke through 2 brick walls this year resulting in 122 newly discovered great grandparents!

My Paper Files, 12 Drawers Worth

My Paper Files, 12 Drawers Worth

The first break-through was on a branch of my husband’s family.  For years research was stopped at 4th great grandparents, Henry Reeves and Mary Woolman.  We knew when they got married, but not when they died, or who their parents were and suspected they were dismissed Quakers but could not find proof.  We discovered death dates for both Henry & Mary, uncovered Mary’s parents, Charles Woolman and Mary A Merrit, who were dismissed for marrying too closely (they were first cousins).  Henry and Mary Reeves followed the tenants of the Quaker faith, attended Quaker services as “Friends of the Quakers” and are buried in a Quaker cemetery in Philadelphia.  Armed with Charles and Mary’s names, and using Quaker records, netted 66 new great grandparents!

The second break-through occurred on a branch in my father’s family.  Research has been stalled at immigrant Welsh ancestors John B Williams and his wife Sarah Davis.  On FindAGrave I found likely burial/death locations for both John B’s, and his wife Sarah.  Sarah is buried in Dubois, Pa with her son Benjamin and his wife Teresa in Rumbarger cemetery.  John is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Warren, Ohio!  He is buried in a plot with his oldest son, David and daughter-in-law Maggie.  John’s burial record in the cemetery office states that his father’s name was Benjamin.  Armed with that information, plus earlier research, I found a baptismal record for John, his marriage record, and his parents marriage record.  Following the church records, I have identified 55 new great grandparents!

Single file drawer

Single file drawer

How do I know how many new ancestors have been discovered in a year?  My physical files are numbered using ahnentafel numbers that begin with my daughters (our combined lines).  I print labels for each file and insert the file into the correct drawer.  Each year I print out a new ahnentafel report and identify the missing files.  The number of new labels I need to print is the number of new ancestors located during the prior year.

Today I printed 158 new labels, what a banner genealogy year it has been!

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Looking back at 2016

What a year 2016 has been, with a many highs and some lows.

  • Moved my dad out of his home of 50 years into a personal care facility.
  • Cleaned out and sold dad’s home.
  • Kyra graduated from Grove City college with a degree in political science (with honors).
  • Paige graduated from Central Bucks East high school.
  • Paige was awarded 2 * $15,000 a year scholarships and began her college career as a freshman at Baldwin Wallace University and survived her first semester.
  • Kyra landed a job working for our PA State Representative, Representative Quinn, in her local office.
  • I attended GRIP Law School with Judy Russell for a week in June.
  • Fall elections with the country feeling more divided than ever
  • 2016 was a good year for genealogy research with several research trips to the National Archives in Washington, DC and DAR Headquarters; research at the Northampton, Westmoreland and Somerset County archives and the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, with breakthroughs on a couple of different family lines.
  • We founded a new DAR Chapter in Pipersville, Pa, the Margaret Gail Thornton chapter, with Kyra as the founding Corresponding Secretary.
  • Paige joined the Margaret Gail Thornton chapter as a new DAR Junior member
  • Cousin Jen joining a DAR chapter in NY
  • Cousins Elisa and her mother’s DAR applications pending at National to join the new Margaret Gail Thornton chapter.
  • Shadow and Lilly are still walking 2 miles a day as 10.5 year old black labs with Charlie & I each morning.

All in all, it has been a very good year, and listing the high and low points shows that it was a much better year than it feels.  I fear the political ill will and divisiveness from the 2016 elections is what has caused it to feel like a very depressing year.

May we leave this rancor behind as we start the New Year looking forward instead of carrying forward all of the bad feelings, poor reporting and negative views that has permeated the headlines and social media.

Shadow and Lilly

Shadow and Lilly

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The We’re Related App

The new We’re Related app by is a nifty free application that you install on an android or apple phone or tablet, and using your family tree, ancestry will match you to your famous cousins!

I have had the app installed for about a month now and can report on mixed success, with enough success that I can say, give it a shot. So far, my daughters have been matched to 39 famous cousins, with about 1 new match a day:

  • 11 Actors & Actresses
  • 5 Authors and Writers
  • 7 Musicians and Composers
  • 3 Politicians
  • 2 Social Reformers
  • 9 US Presidents & US First Ladies
  • 1 Facebook Friend
  • 1 Entertainer

While the app isn’t perfect there are upsides and connections to be made to cousins by using the application.  We’re Related pointed me to a breakthrough on Charlie’s Woolman/Reeves line (unknown parents, a lot of cousin intermarrying, and very common first and last names in Burlington County, NJ post Revolution).  By making a new cousin connection using the information in the We’re Related app,  I was able to find court records to confirm a parentage relationship, and move past a brick wall.  How often as genealogists do the floodgates open and we get to add 26 new “grandparents” over the span of 1 week?  I do so love the Quaker records!

On the flip side, remember that ancestry is using a lot of the “published trees” on their website, so if there is pervasively “wrong” genealogy out there your matches will not be “good” hits.  I offer 2 examples:

  1. Katherine Hepburn (actress, who wouldn’t want her as a cousin): Richard Wells (8th great-grandfather, abt 1694 Maryland – bef 24 Oct 1782, Harford Co, Md) is incorrectly identified as the son of one Col. George Wells and Blanche Goldsmith.  Never mind that Col George’s will written on 20 Feb 1695 makes no mention of a son Richard and mother Blanche also wrote a will on 20 Apr 1704 and her will makes no mention of a son Richard!  Because ancestry sees a parent/child relationship in almost every tree, a false match is generated.
  2. Randy Seaver (FB friend, blogger & genealogist).  My match here is generated due to confusion in the parentage of “my” Elizabeth Barnhart.  In the early 1800’s in Somerset County, Pa several Elizabeth Barnhart’s were born.  My Elizabeth’s parents were David Barnhart and Anna Maria “Polly” Kocher.  When I look at the lineage We’re Related displays, I notice Anna Margaret Spangler is listed as Elizabeth’s mother, and while Anna did have a daughter Elizabeth, but she wasn’t my Elizabeth.  The parents of my Elizabeth Barnhart, who married Henry Faith, are David & Anna Maria Barnhart (proven with church & court records).

To help me keep track of the unverified matches and debunked matches (the app lets you hide these) I created a spreadsheet to prioritize my research:

Spreadsheet to track We're Related matches

Spreadsheet to track We’re Related matches

The spreadsheet is sorted by the Odds of a Match column in descending order (odds are an off-the-cuff estimate I give each lineage of being accurate .. nothing scientific).  The confirmed matches are first, followed by the matches that I believe have the highest odds of being correct, all the way down to the, yeah, no way this is a match section.  My notes are in the Error Ancestor column: notes on research to confirm, the question that popped into my head while looking at the lineage, or why the lineage cited is wrong.

The one caveat to all of this: we are assuming that the lineage of the famous person is correct 🙂

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year ..

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