Friday, March 25, 2016

March Madness - Genealogy Style!

That Geneaspy, J. Paul Hawthorne, caused a March Madness explosion on social media yesterday.  He decided to create a 5 generation pedigree chart in Excel using just the birth locations, and then color each location with a different color.  And then he shared it with everyone.  :)  This led to much lively discussion and colorful feeds across many social media platforms, and it was all good!  Not only does this activity gain involvement for all ages, but the potential for "You have relatives from there, too?" is better than average.  Connections on many levels happening here.

Here is my contribution to the game:

Birth Location 5 Generation Chart
Many posts out there were entirely filled with US states.  I've only got one line still in the US in 5 generations, and that 6th generation will turn it green for Ireland like the rest of that branch.  My family has not been here that long!

Want to make your own?

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match....

A Smart Match on MyHeritage has led me to my first Italian cousin, as opposed to the Italian-American cousins I have been connecting with up to this point.  In my experience, MyHeritage, being an Israeli-based company rather than US, attracts more European users.  So if you have European ancestry and want to connect with living cousins, put a tree out there.  Unless your ancestry is the British Isles, in which case Find my Past is probably the better bet.  If I ever find Irish townlands of origin for my Irish lines, I might finally spend some time on Find my Past, but I'm not there yet! 

I've connected with many Swedish cousins on MyHeritage (lots of cousins of Buzz Aldrin!), but had not updated my Italian line recently.  Adding in some of the recent Italian discoveries from my Omignano focus the last couple of months brought up some new hits.  I sent a message via the web site to contact my potential cousin, and a couple of weeks later, she replied!  And even though I don't speak Italian, and she doesn't speak English, we've traded emails and exchanged pictures of our Italian Giordano ancestors.  So now I have a cousin to visit when I finally get my Italy trip plan together.  And maybe local feet on the ground to hunt down records, especially if they are OUR family records and not just MY family records.  :)

Working through the Omignano records is reaping benefits!  Time to get back to it....

Sunday, March 20, 2016

OMG No! The Saga Continues....

I have been continuing to index my Omignano (OMG, No!) records, in between hunting down family of DNA matches.  Every time I locate a record for one of my DNA matches, I add that record to my index, so even when I'm chasing matches I am still indexing!  So I have some indexing that is done by year and other runs by surname.  I've filled in a few more of the deaths for 1866-1874, completed the deaths for 1875 through part of 1889 and the births for 1866 and 1899. 

The DNA match tree building has yielded some results - the Mobius strip twists further!  I've managed to connect two sets of DNA matches (a woman and her nephew; a man, his first cousin, and his nephew) to one set of common ancestors, Francesco Giuliano (1808-1869) and his wife Carmela La Palementa (1815-1875), making the woman and man 4th cousins 1x removed.  I've just merged a couple in my tree that I added from two completely different line building exercises (Francesco's parents via his sister Carmella), so now I am connected to those DNA matches via one marriage instead of two, but I'm not there yet.  :)

I have a few potential connections that I have no paper trail to support.  How many Nicola Chiariellos can there be in Omignano?  In records that list only a father, that name appears alone.  In records that list both parents, there is a Nicola Chiariello and his wife Luigia Giuliano.  My suspicion is that those are all the same Nicola, which would connect two more siblings to the two with the known mother of Luigia, but given the number of name repeats in this town, I don't think I can make that claim yet.  Maybe I will find another Chiariello record in the set to make those connections.  <fingers crossed>

The index spreadsheet is definitely helping with the DNA matches.  Being able to filter on surnames and find all the children from a particular couple is definitely a great time saver!  At least, when they are all entered.  The data entry continues....

Thursday, March 10, 2016

O Little Town of Omignano....

My last name, Jordan, is an Americanization of the original surname of my great grandfather: Giordano.  Francesco Giordano came to America in 1889 from the little town of Omignano, Salerno, Campania, Italy.  My father's family knew him as Frank Jordan.

In October 2013 I discovered that Family Search posted unindexed digital images of the collection "Italia, Salerno, Vallo della Lucania, Stato Civile (Tribunale), 1866-1929" on their web site, including Frank's birth record.  Using this image set, I traced back a few more generations, which led me to my first set of direct line kissing cousins.  A pair of first cousins once removed married, so one set of 4th great grandparents double as a set of 5th great grandparents. (Does that count as killing 4 birds with 2 stones?)

Given the small size of the town and the high likelihood of intermarrying, it occurred to me that I might be related to quite a lot of people in the town.  And so, an idea was born, The Great Omignano (OMG, no!) Indexing Project!!!  But it was just an idea, and like many ideas, it sat on the shelf for awhile.  There are gold mines of information in all that Italian text, but to get to them, you have to filter though all that Italian text, an endeavor both time consuming and fraught with bad handwriting.  I worked back a few generations, concentrating on the Giordano surname and not much else, but did not roll forward to closer generations that lead to living cousins.  And after that flurry of excitement on the Italian hometown breakthrough, I moved on to other things.

Fast forward two and a half years. I'm starting to see Italian line DNA matches on the various testing sites.  Trying to figure out where these 4th cousin and further out matches fit in is tricky when my tree is not fleshed out both forward and back.  I found myself creating private individual family trees on Ancestry for each DNA match so I could try to build out their trees to figure out how we connect.  After spending two weekends building trees for OTHER people, I finally remembered my epiphany from 2013 and decided to take action on that idea.  The Vallo della Lucania images include births, marriage banns, marriages and deaths starting in 1866.  In 1875, the Omignano record books were converted to fill-in-the-blank forms, but prior to that, the entire record is one big handwritten paragraph.

So the past few weekends, instead of building out yet another DNA match tree (no doubt more of those will happen later), I turned to building spreadsheets.  I started with death records, capturing a number of data elements for each record, including the URL to the image.  For the totally handwritten 1866-1874 records, I've only captured the year, order number, name and URL information for about 200 people - those will take more work to decipher than the form-based ones to complete the index.  I have recorded all the information from the 1875-1887 deaths, about 320 people.  Since I was not focusing solely on the name Giordano, I actually added several more dates and people to my tree just from those records!  I'll take that as a sign that I'm on the right track.  Already I recognize the common surnames of the town, and they are an immediate clue of a potential shared line in the trees of my DNA matches.

So we'll see how long this project stays at the top of the to do list - hopefully I'll be able to finish some record sets before something else jumps the line.  And then I'll be able to use this spreadsheet index as a tool for looking up potential ancestors of DNA matches! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

"Forever" Family Tree

Yesterday my copy of the TV series "Forever" arrived on DVD.  This means that I finally have the episodes I was missing when I created a timeline and family tree a year ago for the characters in the show.  If a TV show is going to spend an episode on genealogy, in this case with a finite set of research data to draw on, then I can start a research project on it, right?  And since the series only had one season (still really bummed about that!) I can actually finish it, too!  I already extracted data from 15 of the 22 episodes, so I'm more than halfway there.  I wish I had this much detail on many of my own ancestors and relatives!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hello, (blogging) world!

Despite the intent of this blog as a genealogy adventure, a form of “Hello, world!” seems an appropriate starting post for this software professional.  I’ve recently returned from my 3rd RootsTech conference, where the tech-based Innovator Summit sessions hold as much interest for me as the genealogy specific ones.  And once again, everyone was talking about using blogs to record your research, share it, and of course, as cousin bait.  Since my main web site is still partying like it’s 1999 (that’s about when I first created it), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to play with some blogging software and see if I could do any better at keeping that up to date.

You may have noticed that there are a number of posts prior to this date, and wonder how I can have started a blog prior to starting a blog.  Is it magic?  Have I learned how to time travel?!?  How can this be?!?!?!?  Lacking a DeLorean, I fall back on what tech knowledge I do have - in this case, backups.  These blog sites provide a way to take a backup of all the posts, as well as a way of restoring that backup.  But what if you were to, say, tweak the backup files?  Maybe change the dates, change the titles...  Well, then you can create posts for earlier dates.  So I thought I might try to document my genealogy journey prior to this date as well, while keeping my discoveries in chronological order.  (My thought of documenting my ancestor's journeys using dates from their timelines was foiled by the blogging software not believing in blog posts dated prior to about 1970, and rejected them on restore. Bummer!)

Let the grand adventure begin!