Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna’s Genealogy Toolkit

Dayna Jacobs, AG®

toolkit piktochart

This toolkit is full of my go-to links that are (mostly) not record repositories, but rather are tools to help me find, interpret, and organize my research and records. I think you’ll want to keep them handy, too.

Abbreviations & Acronyms for Genealogy – What do they mean?

Animated Atlas – U.S. History Timeline

Archive Grid – Identify archives and archival materials

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries – Identify county boundaries for any year

BLM-GLO Records – Find U.S. federal land patents and locate parcels on a map

Cheat Sheet – Boolean Genealogy Searches – Online searches made easy from OGT

Cheat Sheets – Family Tree Magazine – A variety of helps

Cheat Sheet – Table of Wars and Ages of Servicemen –  Determine which war your ancestor might have been involved with

Citation Creator – EasyBib – Help for source citations

David Rumsey Digital Map Collection – Excellent map resource

Earth Point township and range tools – Locate land in the public domain

Encyclopedia of Genealogy – by Dick Eastman

Evernote – Organize your research

Free Forms and Charts – Family Tree Magazine

Free Forms and Charts – Rootsweb

Genealogy Gophers – Searches in genealogy books digitized by FamilySearch

Geographic Names Info System (GNIS) – Supercharged online gazetteer

Historical Map Archive – A look back in time

Internet Archive – For digitized county and family histories

Learning Center – Free online courses at FamilySearch

Linkpendium – Links to genealogy resources organized by locality

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) – Order land entry files and pension files

Newspapers – Library of Congress: Chronicling America

Research Report Template – Download this editable template from OGT

Research Wiki – FamilySearch – Huge knowledge base for researchers

The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy – Online version of a classic

Timeline Template – Download this editable template from OGT

Town and County Database (Rootsweb) – Enter the name of a town to find the county

United States Digital Map Library – A great map resource

USGS Historical Topographic Map Explorer – Click on the timeline to find a map

Vital Records – Where to write

WorldCat – Find libraries and items for interlibrary loan

The ICAPGen ℠ service mark and the Accredited Genealogist® and AG® registered marks are the sole property of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.  All Rights Reserved.

February 2, 1848: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Signed

Churubusco by James Walker 1848 Mexico

“Churubusco” by James Walker, 1848 Mexico

Yes, today is Groundhog Day, but did you know it is also the 158th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?  Of course you did!  It is just more fun to have a Groundhog Day party.  I understand.

Having had an ancestor who was wounded in the Mexican War (Thomas Gooch had his finger shot off in the battle of Buena Vista according to his pension record), I am particularly interested in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war and enlarged the western frontier of the United states.  The Library of Congress website has an excellent guide to the treaty, which gave us the land which became Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming.  One little treaty is all that came between me and Mexican citizenship, as a matter of fact, having had ancestors who settled in 6 out of 8 of those states–some as early as 1847–the year before the treaty was signed.

Ancestry Announces Family Tree Maker Solution


Here’s today’s announcement from–sure to make all the Family Tree Maker users out there happy:

Software MacKiev

Software MacKiev, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, is acquiring the Family Tree Maker software line as publisher for both Mac and Windows versions. Software MacKiev has been the developer of Family Tree Maker for Mac for more than six years and is thrilled at the opportunity to publish future versions of Family Tree Maker for Mac and Windows.

This new agreement means you will receive software updates and new versions from Software MacKiev, and have the ability to purchase new versions of Family Tree Maker from Software MacKiev as they are released. You will have continued access to Ancestry Hints, Ancestry searches, and be able to save your tree on Ancestry with Family Tree Maker moving forward.


We have made an agreement with RootsMagic, a leading genealogy desktop software program publisher, to connect Ancestry with the RootsMagic software by the end of 2016. With this new relationship, RootsMagic can serve as your desktop family tree software, while having access to Ancestry hints, Ancestry searches, and the ability to save your tree on Ancestry.

We have heard your concerns and are working to provide the solutions you requested. These new agreements will make it possible to preserve your work on Ancestry and Family Tree Maker and enable future features and benefits to help you discover your family history. Be assured that Ancestry, in cooperation with Software MacKiev and RootsMagic, will continue to support you as you discover your family history.

We ask for your patience as we work diligently through all the details to make these solutions available. You can find additional details about these Family Tree Maker partnerships on our blog. We also encourage you to continue to check back on our blog for future updates in the coming months.”

Ding dong, the Witch is Dead

Wicked Witch, Comment

Great news everyone! Ding dong, the Witch is dead!  And I have proof.  Of course, the Fairy Tale Genealogist always has proof.

It’s right there in the probate record for Green W. Witch.  The “W” standing for Wicked, no doubt.

Green Witch probate

Probate Estate Records, Index to Estate Files, 1866-1915, Crenshaw County, Alabama; Author: Alabama. Probate Court (Crenshaw County); Probate Place: Crenshaw, Alabama.

Now, the Fairy Tale Genealogist’s earlier research into Snow White revealed the “kingdom” of her childhood was somewhere in Union County, Georgia, so I suppose it should come as no surprise that Oz may very well be found in Crenshaw County, Alabama, according to Ms. Witch’s probate file. The Deep South appears to be a hotbed of fairy tale activity. On the other hand, it is good to keep in mind that probate records are not always filed where the deceased resided, so the legal jurisdiction for Oz may indeed be found Over the Rainbow.

Green W. Witch’s probate file is a good example of just how valuable a probate record can be for a genealogist. It totals 57 pages and has a will, along with sales, petitions, orders, administration papers, and guardianship papers. Kinda makes you want to hop onto and get into the details of this wicked witch’s life doesn’t it?

Well, if you do you will discover that Green W. Witch was actually one errant indexer’s version of “Green W. Welch,” but the facts never stand in the way of a good story for the Fairy Tale Genealogist!

Life After Family Tree Maker

CaptureOn December 8, 2015 Ancestry announced it would no longer sell Family Tree Maker desktop genealogy software as of December 31, 2015, and would support current owners only until January 1, 2017.  This caused an outcry among FTM users, who are all wondering what to do next. This has also raised questions among genealogy software users, in general, regarding the pros and cons of genealogy software and online trees. Here are some of the issues FTM and genealogy software users are facing, along with possible options going forward:

First, there is no need for FTM users to panic or take action immediately.  FTM will continue to be fully functional and supported until January 1, 2017, provided your computer operating system does not have any drastic updates that conflict with it. You have eleven months to consider your options, although other makers of genealogy software are currently offering special deals for FTM users.

FTM issues as of January 2017:

  • FTM will not sync with an online Ancestry Tree.
  • FTM will continue to work, but only as long as your operating system upgrades do not outgrow it.
  • The product will not be supported. No customer service, upgrades, or fixes.

Overall considerations:

  • GEDCOM is the language used by genealogy programs that enables data to be shared between them. A GEDCOM file created in one program can be imported into another program.
  • Exporting files from one genealogy software program to another via GEDCOM will result in the loss of some data, depending on the programs.
  • Some programs will import files from certain other programs directly, without the need for a GEDCOM.
  • If you keep your files only on Ancestry or any other subscription site, you will not have access to it if you cancel your subscription or do not have internet access.
  • Media files will not download from Ancestry or other online trees if you export a tree via GEDCOM. Media files must be saved to your hard drive and then added to your desktop program individually.
  • Software companies that do not also have online database services are going to be committed to the success of their desktop software. This is no guarantee they will be around forever, but is something to consider.
  • Maintaining your family tree in a desktop (not online) genealogy software program allows you to have control over the content, and provides you with far more features for research, recording and reporting.

The options for FTM users:

  • Export FTM data into another desktop software
    • Most companies have free versions, and some of the free versions are quite full-featured. Download several products and import your tree into each one to see which one works best for you
    • Read “Replacing Family Tree Maker, Part 1: How to Scrub Your Data” found on Also see instructions on that blog for moving FTM files to specific software products.  The link is below.
    • Many companies are offering special deals to FTM users right now
    • There are some that will already sync with FamilySearch Family Tree and MyHeritage, and Ancestry is exploring possible relationships with other companies for syncing
    • Other software will continue to be supported as long as their companies are in business
    • You will continue to have control over the content in your tree
  • Keep your tree on your desktop in FTM and use it as long as you can.
    • If you have created an extensive tree on but do not have FTM, buy it before December 31, 2015 and synch your online tree to your desktop, including all media files.
    • Manually add content from Ancestry to your tree (no syncing) after January 1, 2015.
    • It will likely be usable until you upgrade your operating system, and before doing that you can then import it to another software program


Popular desktop genealogy software:

  • Rootsmagic – Windows and Macintosh. Imports FTM directly.
  • Legacy Family Tree – Windows, but reportedly works well with Macintosh.
  • Family Tree Builder – By MyHeritage.  Windows and Macintosh
  • Ancestral Quest – Windows and Macintosh
  • Reunion – Macintosh
  • Mac Family Tree – Macintosh
  • Gramps – Linux and Windows

For reviews of genealogy software and discussions on the retirement of FTM see:

Native American Research Out West

“Navajo Medicine Man”, Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I guess this post could be more aptly named, “Native American Research at your nearest National Archives regional facility,” but would you have have dosed off? I nearly did just writing it.

I have mentioned in other blog posts my love for the National Archives website, and today I noticed they have really pumped up the section on Native American research, so I thought I would give you an idea of what you might find.  I hope you will want to venture farther and explore the links there, as there are some fascinating records to be found.  And if you don’t have any Native American ancestry, don’t stop reading here!

If your ancestors made their way Out West, the chances are very high their lives intersected with the native population (land ownership issues, water rights, commerce, schools, employment, etc.), and this generated records. Some of the most valuable genealogical records I have for my non-native Arizona and New Mexico ancestors come from records held by the BIA, or Bureau of Indian Affairs, or Record Group 75 at NARA (the National Archives). Continue reading

“[They] gave thier Lives where we only gave our service. But we were all willing.”

Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police

Pvt. A.L. Gooch on his motorcycle, WWI 89th Div., Military Police

[This is 14h in a series of letters written by Private A.L. Gooch to his family in Duncan Arizona, while a part of the American Occupation Forces in Germany after WWI.

This letter was written 23 Jan 1919, after the end of the war but before Pvt Gooch had returned home.  This letter is the last in the series of letters from Pvt Gooch to his family during WWI – at least the last of those I have found.  In this letter, Pvt Gooch (known as Nig) was recovering from the Spanish Flu, had returned to his company, and was looking forward to his return home at some point. Original letters are in possession of Dayna Gooch Jacobs, King City, California. Envelope missing. Continue reading