Saturday, January 21, 2017

BLM and spreadsheets

I love the Bureau of Land Management’ s General Land Office Records. I do lot of research is in the state of Mississippi which is a public land state so the BLM records are invaluable. I am working on a FAN* project involving my favorite brick wall, James Simmons (1764-1843). James’ first known land purchase in the Mississippi Territory was in 1816 (the BLM records show 1820 because that is when the note was paid off but the transaction was in 1816). I want to to see who bought land in the same township/range as James but I want to narrow it to the same time period. James’ property was in T5NR11W. I can easily do a search for everyone in that township/range but I get a list that is 6 pages long. I can get a consolidated list by clicking the Printer Friendly button in the upper right corner which is better but the list is alphabetical and not in date order. It is easy to miss something when you just scan the list. Here is what it looks like:


This table is screaming, “Put me in a spreadsheet!” I simply copied and pasted the table straight into an Open Office spreadsheet. MS Excel is my normal go to but in this case no because of the dates (MS Excel does not recognize pre 1901 dates). It pasted beautifully. I had to do two things first.

1) Format > Merge Cells
2) Highlight the date column and then Format > Cells.  Change the date so that you can see a 4 digit year.

Now I can sort. Highlight the entire spreadsheet and then go to Data > Sort. Sort by Column C (the date column) and choose Ascending.

And here is what it looks like now:



My James is right at the top. I can cross reference this against everyone that was in the same section or the adjacent sections if I wanted to. It is important to know that Section 33 happens to be on the border between townships so I need to do the same thing for T4NR11W to pick up those sections to the south that border Section 33, namely Section 4 of T4NR11W. I am a visual person so once I have my names and dates I use History Geo to show my the layouts and the proximity of the plats. You can see that the dates are on the map but I prefer to have the names and dates in my hand up front because again, if I just scan the map I might miss something.

ss2Screenshot from History Geo

* FAN = Friends, Associates, Neighbors.  This acronym was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills.  It is a research technique where you look to the people that surround your ancestor in hopes of finding out information about your ancestor.  You can read more about it HERE.

Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My FamilySearch experiment Part II

You can read Part I HERE.

I think Legacy has the most advanced error checking tools of any program so I was pretty excited to see what all Legacy would find. I did clear out a couple of global errors manually because I didn’t want the Potential Problems Report to be artificially inflated. Before I got started, I did a check/repair on the file. For Legacy users this would be File > File Maintenance > Check/Repair. If you are using one of the other programs make sure you do whatever maintenance/compacting your file offers.

The second thing I did was globally sort all of the children’s lists by birth date. If children are not sorted by birth date this will appear on the Potential Problems report but in the grand scheme of things this is a minor error and I had no doubt most of the lists would be out of order. For the Legacy users, go to Tools > Other Tools > Sort Child, Marriage and Event Lists.

The third thing I did was globally changed all of the surnames to initial caps (my preference). I could have just as easily changed the surnames globally to all caps. For Legacy users, this is Option 3.3 in the customization menu. I wanted all of the surnames in one style so that it didn’t trigger a Potential Problem.

Next is the Potential Problems Report itself. For Legacy users this is Tools > Potential Problems. I reset everything to the default using the Reset button. I did want to change one of the defaults. On the “Gaps” tab I deselected all of the options. Legacy will alert you to any unusual date gaps in your children indicating possible missing children. This would have artificially inflated my problems report so I simply turned that part off. Legacy checks for 29 other potential problems/errors. You can customize the error checking quite a bit but for now I left everything at the defaults other than turning the “Gaps” off. There are other error checking tools built in and I will get to those in a moment but for now we are going to work with this main report.

I had 260 pages of errors which is over 3,300+ errors. Ouch. Some of the errors are standardization problems but a lot of the errors are quite serious such as people dying before they were born.

A separate error checker is the “County Verifier.” This only applies to US locations. These are errors where a place didn’t exist at the time of the event or the place never existed at all. I have 26 pages of errors here. You can find this at Tools > US County Verifier > US County Verification.

A really fun one that I found was someone that had 126 marriages. I am emailing FamilySearch about that one. Most of them are to the very same person (same FSID) or to a duplicate (same person, different FSID). Legacy was able to merge the people that had the same FSID number so I didn’t see as many in Legacy as what was on FamilySearch.

Even though I had Legacy check for duplicates on import I still have 9504 possible duplicates using the default settings. I am not surprised because when Legacy is looking for duplicates on import it is looking for the exact duplicates. Anything more than that would slow the import down too much.

I then took a look at the Master Location List. This was pretty frightening. I have 5829 different locations but many are duplicates because it is the same location entered differently (and this would be why there are standards for data entry). Many of the entries aren’t even locations. I have “murdered” as a location. I have some weird numbers such as 24-1352 and 40-1592 that I have no idea what those are. Some of the other things I found in a location field are, “alternate birth name,” “Rhydderch ap t, “John’s wife,” “he was a carpenter,” ”3rd Lord of Berkeley,” “A convent,” “wp,” “Scotsman,” and it goes on and on.

Another search I can do is “All Records With Bad Dates.” This is found at Search > Find and then click the Miscellaneous tab.  Only 36 people had bad dates which is better than I expected.

Here is another fun one. I looked at the File Statistics which is at Tools > Statistics. This one had me rolling on the floor. The individual that lived the longest in this file was someone that lived 675 years, 6 months and 13 days to be followed by someone that lived 364 years and 9 months. The longest marriage comes in at 94 years, 11 months and 6 days.  Not bad.  The most popular given name in the file is “?” (you knew that was coming didn’t you).

Three points:

1) Don’t believe everything you see on FamilySearch
2) There is still a lot of cleanup needed (please help!)
3) If your program can’t do this kind of error checking it might be time for you to switch to Legacy (shameless plug)


Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My FamilySearch experiment

Before I tell you what I did, I want to say that I am a big supporter of FamilySearch’s Family Tree and always have been. Even though I am not LDS I was a beta tester for Family Tree’s predecessor, NewFamilySearch. I am a long time FamilySearch indexer/arbitrator and I work for Legacy which can sync to FamilySearch directly so that is why I was allowed to beta test.  I love the idea of a collaborative tree. I am the first to admit that there are problems as there are with any of the online tree type websites. FamilySearch has a few unique problems because it is a  collaborative tree. Time will make it better as more data gets cleaned up. I educate as many people as I can about the correct way to use FamilySearch through my blog and through lectures that I give to genealogical societies. Please see:

I will also say that I upload but I don’t download. Every single person in my One-Name Study file is completely sync’d to FamilySearch. In my regular file only my absolute direct line (and siblings of my direct line) are sync’d as well as select brick walls that I am working on. I make sure that I keep these people cleaned up. Legacy makes it easy for me because I can immediately see if my sync’d people have been edited. I can then check the edits. I know how to work with duplicates and I know how to merge people correctly. There are a lot of other people out there like me that make it their business to make FamilySearch the best that it can be.

So now on to my experiment. There was a post on the Legacy Users Group Facebook Page about downloading your entire tree from FamilySearch. The person that posted was remarking about the large number of people that downloaded. Even though I have only sync’d my direct line ancestors and their siblings these people are linked into FamilySearch’s FamilyTree so when I download, I get all of the linked people, not just the ones that are sync’d to me. I decided I would download my entire tree from FamilySearch just to see what would happen. You can do this directly through the three programs that are authorized to directly sync, Legacy being one of them. If you decide to try this, make sure that you download to an EMPTY file and not to your real genealogy file. 

I told FamilySearch to use my dad as the anchor. I did this because my mother’s line is 100% European and I am the one that uploaded her line. No additional people have been added by anyone else because no one else works on these lines. I told it to download 100 generations of ancestors. I figured 100 generations would capture everyone no matter how deep the tree is.  I wanted to see how long it would take to download and how many people there it would be. I also wanted to see how many obvious errors there were in the file using some of Legacy’s error checking tools.

The options I chose for the download were:

  • 100 generations of ancestors
  • 0 generations of descendants
  • Assign source citations to imported data
  • Include spouses of children
  • Check for duplicates (This will slow down importing)
  • Include only preferred parents [there are some people on FS have 15 sets of parents because of bad linking.  I didn’t want to go there]

These are the options available in Legacy. The options available in the other programs that can directly sync may be a little different.

It took 8 hours to download. Why? Because of all the endless loops and other linking errors. With every relationship Legacy (or RootsMagic or Ancestral Quest, the other two programs that can directly sync) has to calculate that relationship. If there is something wrong with the relationship it has to calculate, and recalculate and recalculate. I ended up with 6,856 people.

In my next blog post I will tell you what errors Legacy found in this tree.

Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ida’s grandfather Stephen Perry

You can read about Ida, one of my favorite people, here:

The Story of Ida Perry
Thank you, Mary!
Ida Perry

John Ames has in his possession a photo of Ida’s grandfather (my 3rd great-grandfather) Stephen Oliver Perry. He was born about 1819 in Robeson County, North Carolina and died between 01 December 1873 and 03 May 1878 in Pascagoula, Jackson County, Mississippi. He was a Civil War veteran.

Perry, Stephen Oliver 01Photograph courtesy of the John Ames collection, used with permission


Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ida Perry

You can read about Ida Perry, my 2nd great-aunt and one of my favorite relatives, HERE. You can see her nursing diploma HERE.

One of my second cousins once removed emailed me a couple of days ago.  I knew who he was but I had never spoken to him. He wanted me to see some photos that he had, some that I had never seen before.  He had several of Ida, most of which I had seen but not this one.  By now you know that I have been a registered nurse since I was 19 years old and that is one of the reasons I am so drawn to Ida and her sisters Dona and Mary who were all nurses.  Here is one of the coolest pictures ever.

Perry, Ida 03Photograph courtesy of the John Ames collection, used with permission

Ida is the woman on the far right.  This picture would have been taken at Charity Hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana circa 1905 when Ida was the nursing superintendent there. She and her sisters were absolutely beautiful. John is the grandson of Dona Perry (Ida’s sister) and I am the great-granddaughter of Ida and Dona’s brother, Walter.

Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, January 2, 2017

My genealogical New Year’s resolution

So what is my genealogical New Year’s resolution? 

I will not procrastinate

What this means is, I will deal with each piece of information as it come in instead of shoving things off to the side to do later (or not do later).

I am going to do a few things that will help me with the above.  I have too many obligations going on as a general rule. I am unsubscribing myself from some email lists that I don’t have time to participate in. I going to allow my membership to lapse in a couple of societies that I am not active in. I am going to have to curtail some of my pro bono work (definitely not all, I am a big believer in giving back to the genealogical community but sometimes I have a hard time saying no). I am going to limit the number of active cases I am working on at any one time.

Even though I have made a commitment to no longer procrastinate, I still have a backlog that I have to deal with and I am vowing to deal with it on a daily basis. Even if I only tackle one small item per day I will eventually get the backlog caught up. I think getting into a consistent routine is the key. Another thing that will help is simply keeping my desk clean and orderly.  Every evening before I leave my office I will tidy up. One of the things I am really bad about is pulling reference books out and not putting them back on the shelf so most of the time I have a pile of books at my feet.

I am tired of always feeling like I am behind.

Copyright © 2017 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

So what are the pros?

In yesterday’s blog post, Let’s make FamilySearch’s Family Tree better for everyone, I briefly touched on the cons of a collaborative tree but I didn’t talk about the pros. Why would you want to be part of this project?

I will start out by saying that I do not have my entire file sync’d to the Family Tree.  If I did, I would spend all of my time doing maintenance because Legacy immediately alerts me to any changes that have been made on anyone I have sync’d.  With a little over 10,000 people in my file the probability is very high that a number of my people will be changed every day. So who do I have sync’d?  I have my entire One-Name Study (ONS) sync’d.  My surname for my ONS is very rare (Glaentzer and variations) so it is less likely there will be activity on these people.  The other group of people I have sync’d are my brick walls. 

So what does “sync’d” actually mean?  For each of these people I have told Legacy that I have viewed the information on FamilySearch.  Here is one of my brick wall ancestors:


Both arrows set to green means we are in sync. This does not mean that the information I have in Legacy is identical to what is on FamilySearch. I could choose to upload/download to make both sides have the identical information but I don’t have to.

If anyone changes any data on the FamilySearch. side I will be notified immediately because the bottom arrow will turn red (if the top arrow is red that means I have made changes in Legacy without resyncing).

If I see that arrow change to red, the first thing I am going to do is connect to FamilySearch to see what was changed and by whom. Legacy allows me to filter my names by what color arrows they have. The other two programs that can directly sync to the Family Tree have similar systems built in to alert you of changes.

This helps me in two ways.  If someone uploads something I don’t have I can analyze it.  Does it have a source?  If so, I can investigate it further to find the source and evaluate it myself. I can also contact the submitter so that we can talk about this person. If this is a descendant from a different branch they may know something that I don’t and they might have photographs and documents (like Bible records) that I had no idea existed.

FamilySearch’s Family Tree is a research tool. Like any other tool you must use it judiciously. As long as you know what you are doing and you use the Family Tree the right way, the data on your computer will not be changed and you might just learn some things about your ancestors that you did not know.  

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, December 26, 2016

Let’s make FamilySearch’s Family Tree better for everyone

I am a big supporter of FamilySearch’s Family Tree. Yes, there are problems with a collaborative tree but I think the pros outweigh the cons. The biggest issue is that people complain when others come behind them and make changes. There are a couple of things I want to say about that.

  • All of your research should be on YOUR computer. You should not be using FamilySearch as your genealogy database program. I think it is a mistake to use FamilySearch that way. People can change what is on FamilySearch but no one can change what is on your computer. You can easily sync to FamilySearch using one of the authorized programs (I use Legacy) which gives you full control over what is uploaded and downloaded.
  • They aren’t “your” ancestors. These ancestors belong to other people too. Here is a fun Descendants Calculator. I set it at 5 generations, 25 years per generation, and 4 for an average number of children (a very conservative number). This person would have 3,905 descendants.  I am sure more than one of these descendants is a genealogist.

So here are a few suggestions on how you can help make the Family Tree better:

If you don’t know what you are doing you can mess it up for everyone else 
This is my biggest pet peeve.  People get excited and try to make changes to the Family Tree without taking the time to educate themselves on how everything works. Adding people, merging people, and deleting people affects EVERYONE who has those ancestors in their tree.  The very best training I have found is the
Riverton FamilySearch Library Handouts. There are 11 pdfs you can download to your computer to read and use as a reference. They include screenshots and Riverton updates them as needed. These are the handouts I use when I give a presentation on FamilySearch (with permission). 

Take the time to address the possible duplicates
A lot of people don’t address possible duplicates. They have FSID ABC-1234 in their tree and they only worry about updating this FSID. All of the programs that can sync will present you with a list of possible duplicates. If you are working directly on the FamilySearch website you will also be presented with a list of possible duplicates. The two mistakes you can make are not combining duplicates when you should and merging people haphazardly when you shouldn’t. If there is any question, don’t merge. Please see the
Riverton Handouts for more information.

Please add your sources
Other researchers need to know where you got your information because if it conflicts with what they have and you don’t have a source, chances are they are going to update the person with their information knocking your data off.

Take advantage of the Discussions area
This is a great place to post your theories and evidence for other researchers to ponder and add their thoughts.

Make sure your email address/contact information is correct
Nothing is more frustrating to a researcher than not being able to contact a contributor when they have a question.

If you use Legacy, here is the training information you need: Legacy FamilySearch Training.  If you use one of the other programs that can sync, check to see if they have specific training materials that address both how you use the Family Tree in general and how to use their program specifically to sync. Even if you don’t use Legacy, you might want to read the above article, especially the part about cleaning up your data before you start uploading.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ethics and the Genealogist

I have started a second blog called Ethics and the Genealogist.  I feel there is a need for a forum dedicated to the ethical issues genealogists face. It will be a few days before I post on the new blog because I have a couple of technical issues to work out first.

I have also created
The Ethical Genealogist Facebook Group page so that there can be open discussion about current events and topics related to ethics within the genealogist community. This is a closed group so you have to request to join and then myself or a moderator will approve you. I am going to get the Facebook Group page up and running first and then the blog will follow.

Copyright © 2016 Michele Simmons Lewis

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference

If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world of genetic genealogy then you need to buy the conference videos from the 2016 International Genetic Genealogy Conference. For $99.00 you will get NINETEEN lectures on a broad range of topics. You are not going to find a better bargain when it comes to high quality continuing education. So far I have watched the first eight and haven’t been disappointed.  I will be knocking out several more this weekend.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My friend Randy Seaver

I read Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings. It’s one of my favorites. One of the things Randy does is he posts lists of the new databases coming online at the major repositories. Part of my job at Legacy is to keep our Research Guidance module up-to-date so I monitor these databases too. I sent Randy a message over Facebook with my observation that lately Ancestry has been adding databases that FamilySearch already has. I do know that Ancestry and FamilySearch have a partnership but I was bemoaning a bit about Ancestry not adding more unique databases. What I didn’t know is that Randy had just done a comparison of the four top websites. I get his blog by email and it arrives in my inbox a day or two after his blog actually comes out. He did an exact name search for “Seaver” on all four websites to see what results he would get. You can see his findings HERE.

It just so happens that I do a One-Name Study for a rare surname (Glaentzer and variations).  I wanted to do something similar to what Randy did. I am not as industrious as Randy so I simplified my test. I recorded the number of hits I got on the top four websites for their documents side and their tree side and compared them.  I did an exact search for “Glaentzer.”  This is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

Company Records Trees
Ancestry 680 93
FamilySearch 346 333*
FindMyPast 93 n/a
MyHeritage 314 346

*Even though I told FamilySearch to do an exact search only, it returned names that were not exact when I searched the FamilyTree.  I didn’t go through and count the actual number of Glaentzers. I recorded the total number but the real number is less than this.

On the surface it looks as through Ancestry has the others beat in the number of records but I haven’t scrutinized the hits yet. It was a very interesting experiment.

You will also want to check out Randy’s ongoing series about Ancestry's We’re Related App which has been very interesting. Randy looks at each of his matches and then evaluates the probability that the lineage is correct.

So far I have 61 matches, both to famous people and to Facebook friends. I have a barebones tree on Ancestry for DNA purposes but I might upload a more comprehensive tree just for fun. I happen to like BYU’s RelativeFinder which is similar in concept but uses FamilySearch’s FamilyTree. Both of these are more for entertainment purposes but you never know when you might get a valuable clue so I don’t discount them.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Thursday, December 8, 2016

DNA and more DNA



I have been spending the last few weeks rounding out my DNA education through selected webinars, books and blogs. Everything else has been on the back burner. I am a solid intermediate trying to get to the advanced level. My latest endeavor is setting up and learning how to use Genome Mate Pro. In preparation, I became a Tier 1 member of GEDMatch. I had subscribed to the Tier 1 tools for a single month a couple of times but now I am to the point that I need access all of the time. I am also now a paid member of DNAGedcom. Genome Mate Pro works together with GEDmatch and DNAGedcom so it just had to be done. I manage a lot of kits and I think Genome Mate Pro is going to be a godsend when it comes to keeping everything organized and analyzed.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 18, 2016

Update on Maude

Here are the two previous posts:
A Brick Wall for YOU
More on Maude

A blog reader suggested that I check to see if Maude applied for a delayed birth certificate in the state of Mississippi. I thought that was a pretty good idea. I requested a search but unfortunately the search was negative and she never filed for one. I really can’t read too much into that though. She would have needed a birth certificate to apply for a social security number but she could have died before she would have applied or she never applied at all which is likely considering that she never (as far as I know) was part of the regular workforce.

Here is a good article on this history of Social Security on the Social Security Administration website:

 Historical Background and Development of Social Security


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Follow up on GySgt Di Reyes Ibañez

What I didn’t tell you yesterday is that Di was a legal immigrant from the Philippines. He made his declaration on 06 October 1959, joined the Marine Corps on 18 Jan 1960 under a green card, took his oath of allegiance on 08 June 1965 and his petition for citizenship was formally granted on 19 June 1964. He died three years later fighting for his new country. Di was single and had no children.   

I did find a passenger list for the USNS David C. Shank that listed Di R. Ibañez along with a Deogracias Ibañez. The vessel traveled from Subic Bay, Philippines to San Francisco, California with a stopover in Agana, Guam. Deogracias was listed as an American citizen while Di was listed as Filipino. This is definitely an avenue of inquiry.

I did a “tree” search on Ancestry and there is one person that has Di in their tree.  I did send a message but that person hasn’t logged in to Ancestry in over a year so I am not too hopeful. I found Di on FamilySearch. He is FSID MBGN-JJ6. There was nothing on him but a birth date with the wrong birth location and a wrong death date. I have updated his listing with what I know so far and as I find out more I will be adding it. I do not want this man forgotten.

FamilySearch has 19 online databases for the Philippines. I couldn’t find Di in any of them. He isn’t listed in the Social Security Death Index so my next move it to try and find his death certificate. I have asked an expert forensic genealogist for instructions on how to get a copy of it. I am hoping his next of kin are listed which I am sure they pulled from his military records. I did find Deogracias Ibañez in the records though. I found a marriage record in the same town where Di was born. Deogracias Ibañez married Natividad Patawaran on 31 December 1955.  Deogracias was a 51 year old widower putting his date of birth about June 1904. Is this Di’s father?  Click HERE to see the marriage contract. There are two other listings for a Deogracias in Manilla with two other spouses but I don’t know yet if this is the same person. I can’t view these two images without going to a FHC.

This is one of those people you just can’t let go of. I still have a lot of research ahead of me.

*Source information can be seen HERE.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, November 11, 2016

Gunnery Sergeant Di Reyes Ibañez


Every time I pull this bracelet out and look at it I want to cry. Thank you for your service, Gunnery Sergeant Di Reyes Ibañez. I am so sorry you didn’t make it home. Di was missing in action on 05 June 1967. He was declared dead, body not recovered in 1978. You can read his story here:

Gunnery Sergeant Di Reyes Ibañez


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, November 7, 2016

Your right to vote

George Washington Esq., President of the United States of AmericaPresident George Washington, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Tomorrow is the big day. This particular election is one of the most controversial in history and it got to me thinking. I wonder who my ancestors voted for. I looked at one ancestor in particular, my #1 brick wall, James Simmons, Sr. I wanted to see which elections he would have voted in and which candidates he would have had to choose from. James was old enough that he would have voted in the very first presidential election. How exciting that must have been for him!  He would have understood just how important his vote was having lived through the American Revolution. Voting was his right, his privilege, and his responsibility. James was 25 years old in 1789 and he would have voted in 14 presidential elections prior to his death in 1843. I assume he did vote. He was of age and a land owner. He also signed a couple legislative petitions making him politically active. Back in those days the only way to learn about the candidates was from the newspaper and from local forums. I have visions of local gatherings discussing/arguing the issues. I wonder if James got up and voiced his opinion. I will probably never know the answer. What I could do is research what each candidate’s platform was and then guess who James voted for based on what I know about him. I think it would be a fun exercise. Here are the presidential elections that James would have voted in.

George Washington (no party affiliation)
John Adams (no party affiliation)

George Washington (Federalist)
John Adams (Federalist)
George Clinton (Anti-Federalist)
Thomas Jefferson (Anti-Federalist)
Aaron Burr (Anti-Federalist)

John Adams (Federalist)
Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)
Thomas Pinckney (Federalist)
Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican)

Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)

Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican)
John Adams (Federalist)
Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)
John Jay (Federalist)

Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican)
Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)

James Madison (Democratic-Republican)
Charles C. Pinckney (Federalist)
George Clinton (Democratic-Republican)

James Madison (Democratic-Republican)
DeWitt Clinton (Federalist)

James Monroe (Democratic-Republican)
Rufus King (Federalist)

James Monroe (Democratic-Republican)

John Quincy Adams (no party affiliation)

John Quincy Adams (no party affiliation)

Andrew Jackson (no party affiliation)
William H. Crawford (no party affiliation)
Henry Clay (no party affiliation)

Andrew Jackson (Democratic)
John Quincy Adams (National Republican)

Andrew Jackson (Democratic)
Henry Clay (National Republican)
John Floyd (no party affiliation)
William Wirt (Antimasonic)

Martin Van Buren (Democratic)
William H. Harrison (Whig)
Hugh L. White (Whig)
Daniel Webster (Whig)
W. P. Mangum (no party affiliation)

William H. Harrison (Whig)
Martin Van Buren (Democratic)


Please exercise your right as a citizen of the United States of America and vote in the 57th presidential election.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

DNA update

My most frustrating brick wall of all time has been trying to find parents for my 4th great-grandfather, James Simmons, born 14 August 1764. I have been working on this for 25 years. The good news is that DNA testing has created a small crack in that brick wall.  You can read up on where I am on with the DNA testing HERE but I have a bit of an update. There were three prominent Simmons men in adjoining counties to where my James lived — Ralph, Willis and Richard Simmons. These three men headed distinct family groups but I have always suspected that the three lines must tie in somewhere. I have actually mentioned Ralph and Willis before HERE.

Ralph served in the same Mississippi Militia unit at the same with my James’ oldest known son William. They were both officers. Coincidence? I was able to find a female descendant of Ralph’s through FamilySearch. She is a genealogist and she was able to find a direct line male descendant of Ralph’s for me to yDNA test. I wrote him a letter and he called me back yesterday. He is more than willing to take the DNA test. We spoke on the phone for about 30 minutes and he was very interested in the case. We should know something in about 6 weeks.

Another genealogist I happened across while working an atDNA angle was able to point me to some specific yDNA already on the Simmons project page. There is a man that has DNA tested who put his brick wall ancestor as John Simmons born 1725. According to this other researcher, This John was Willis Simmons’ grandfather. There is a book written about Willis that you can see
HERE. Willis headed up the “Silver Creek Simmons Family”. On page 23 is this statement, “Willis Simmons was born in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1784, came to Mississippi from Jones County, Georgia sometime between October 11, 1809 and November 1, 1810…” all of this is unverified BUT take a look at THIS PAGE again. Scroll to the graphic at the bottom and then look at the DNA match on the right. Look at the very top person, William Simmons. Look what county he is in. JONES COUNTY. Hmmmmmm. I do have Willis’ passport from Jones County, Georgia to the Mississippi Territory 11 Oct 1809 so that part is correct.1

The person that yDNA tested who is in the Willis Simmons line only tested at 12 markers but it is a 12/12 marker match to my James. I have emailed him asking if he would be willing to upgrade to 67 markers and also does he have a tree I can look at. Willis is looking good as a match and I am thinking we will be able to hook him into the known Jones County line.

There is one other prominent group of Simmons’ in this area at this same time. There happens to be a book written about this family too and you can see it
HERE. This is the “Bala Chitto Simmons Family” headed by Richard Simmons. Richard looks like a good candidate because he was born in South Carolina 04 July 1770 (not verified). Richard headed a huge family over in Pike County, Mississippi, and again, I suspected that the Pike County Simmons’ would tie in. The same person that alerted me to the person that DNA tested in Willis’ line pointed me back to the Simmons yDNA project page.  There was something there that I had completely overlooked. Two direct line descendants of Richard have tested at 111 markers.  I never saw this. Why? Their DNA is completely different. I stopped comparing their DNA to my James at 12 markers because they already had a genetic distance of more than 10. Ouch. Since Richard is a contemporary and was in South Carolina at the same time as my James, there could be an NPE to explain this. As a matter of fact, one tester carries the Simmons surname but the other does not. The two testers are a perfect match to each other. So where does that leave me?  It means that I still have to try and follow Richard’s line on paper because this could still be a match (of a sort) and could lead me back to my James’ parents.

Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

1 Georgia Department of Archives and History, Passports Issued by Governors of Georgia, 1785-1809  (Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 1959),  28. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

The cost of DNA testing

All I have to say is, no matter how much I spend on DNA testing I will still never spend as much as my husband and son do on hunting and fishing.  ‘Nuff said.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Der Johannisfriedhof ist der schönste Friedhof Deutschlands

Yesterday I told you that the Johannisfriedhof in Bielefeld had been voted the most beautiful cemetery in Germany. I linked to the article but I couldn’t post the photo because I didn’t have permission to use it.  My cousin Christina has come through again.  She gave me two photos to use. 

Photograph copyright © 2016 Christina Gläntzer, used with permission

Photograph copyright © 2016 Christina Gläntzer, used with permission


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dr. Oetker’s wife

Anyone that knows anything about Germany will understand the significance if what I am about to say.  My friend (and distant cousin) Christina and I work together on the Gläntzer/Glaentzer One-Name Study. She told me something today that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Gläntzers but it is the best piece of news.  Christina’s great-grandmother was best friends with Dr. Oetker’s wife!  Yes, THE Dr. Oetker!  For those of you that are sitting there scratching your head right now, Dr. Oetker is the Betty Crocker of Germany. There are hundreds of Dr. Oetker products and Dr. Oetker cookbooks are very popular.  I own five Dr. Oetker cookbooks myself and whenever I go to Helen, Georgia I stock up on Dr. Oetker cooking and baking supplies.  (For those who don’t know, Helen is a town in the north Georgia mountains that is patterned after a German village). 

Christina was kind enough to send me a photograph and give me permission to use it in the blog. 

Fromm, Friedrich and wife AnnaPhotograph circa 1937, Baden-Baden, Germany, courtesy of Christina Gläntzer
Left to right, Mrs. Oetker, Dr. Fritz Fromm and wife Eleonore (Baack) Fromm

Oh but that wasn’t the only thing Christina told me today.  She also let me know that a cemetery where family members are buried was named the most beautiful cemetery in Germany.  “Der Johannisfriedhof ist der schönste Friedhof Deutschlands.” I can’t post the picture of the cemetery because I don’t have permission to use it but if you have Facebook you can see it HERE.

Today is a very good day.


Copyright © 2016 Michèle Simmons Lewis