Weekly Recap – March 6-26, 2017

Where I Started

Old Tree Hints

Old Tree Hints

When I started this website, I had already been working on my family tree on Ancestry.com for several years.  The problem was that I started off as a beginner and I did a few things I wish I hadn’t done.

For example, I attached a lot of personal family trees to my own thinking that it was getting me further in my research.  I guess you could say it was a shortcut.  But it led to many inaccurate facts being attached to my own family tree which has put up road blocks (or brick walls) that I’m now trying to work through.

So when I started this website, I also started a new family tree on Ancestry.com.  I left the old one in place, but started a new one to start from scratch.  I didn’t want to lose all of my work, but the old family tree got to the point where it was overwhelming to work on because I had way too many hints and inaccuracies to work through.  So I started fresh, with a clean slate.


March 6-12

The person I started the tree with was Viola Mildred Beyl.  I started with her because I have the least amount of information on the Beyl family.  The Beyl family is very special to me so I was anxious to find out more about them.  Naturally, after Viola, I researched the next generation back starting with her father.

I researched the following people in order:

The problem that I ran into was that I hit a brick wall fairly quickly, after only 3 generations back.  I paused at that point to write the Unsolved Mysteries page and I spent many hours reviewing the different records I had for Jacob William Beyl Sr. and anything that looked like his parents.  But that didn’t get me through the brick wall.


March 13-19

Since I couldn’t bust through that wall, I decided to start researching siblings and spouses as well.  So next I researched in order:

Unfortunately, those folks didn’t reveal any additional facts that would help me break through the brick wall.  But they did reveal additional people to research.  As people marry and have children, this brings additional people to the family tree that need to be researched and documented.


March 20-26

Hints on 3-26-17

Hints on 3-26-17

One thing I’d like to prevent this time around is winding up with 7,500+ hints sitting there collecting dust.  That overwhelms me and makes me feel like I’ll never get done.  It adds unnecessary stress to what I’m doing because I feel like I can’t ever catch up.

Logically, I know that this is a project that will not be finished in my lifetime.  The stress doesn’t come from pressure to finish it.  What I do want to do though is get through all of the documented history so that I can start really researching and finding the deep hidden stories of my ancestors lives.  The kinds of stories that aren’t easily findable on Federal documents.

At the same time, there are several lines of people for me to research so when I spend too much time on one line, I feel like I should be working on another.  And the hints are starting to add up again.  I’m already over 300 hints to work through with this little bit of work that I’ve done.

So I started working through spouses and siblings this week as well as adding the initial person from a few other lines I’d like to research.  I researched the following people this week in order:

I haven’t written the posts for these folks yet, but as I do I will come back to this post and link out to them.


Plan Going Forward

I think that in order to have some sort of systematic way to research my lineage, I need to stick to a plan.  I find myself struggling often with deciding on who to research at any given time.  But I think now that I’ve started with a clean slate, I need to make a plan and stick to it.

So my plan going forward is to build my new tree from the ground up.  In other words, start with myself and build it back, one generation at a time.  I’ve added myself, my sibling, my parents, etc. to my new tree and have added the basic details for each of us.  I will continue to fill those in as I go.

In the meantime, I will start at one generation and research all of the people within that generation.  For example, I started with Viola Mildred Beyl.  Once I’ve done the research on her, I will also research her spouse, children, and siblings.

Next I will move on to another person within the same generation.  Again, once I finish that person, I will research their spouse, children, and siblings.  This will include the spouse and children for each of the siblings as well.

I will continue from person to person until I have completed that entire generation.  Only then will I move back to the next generation.  This way, I will be able to balance out the work and ensure that I am researching each line and nobody gets left behind.

That being said, since I started with Viola Mildred Beyl, I will spend this next week focused on the spouse, children, and siblings of Viola and then the spouse and children for each of her siblings.


Extra Credit

I did a few additional things this week in order to advance my genealogical experience a little bit further.  While these tasks certainly aren’t necessary for every family historian, they are tasks that I find beneficial and therefore I would recommend to anybody pursuing their own ancestry.

  • Ancestry Academy Courses
  • Find A Grave Memorials
  • Grave Hunting
  • Grave Tagging

Ancestry Academy Courses

I watched a few of the courses over at Ancestry Academy this week.  Since I am not a professional genealogist or historian, I think it’s important to take some time out to learn about what I’m doing.  This may save me some time in the future.  So I watched the following courses:

  • Getting Started on Ancestry: Starting Your Family Tree
  • Waiting for DNA Results? Start Your Tree Now!
  • When You Find a Brick Wall, Develop Foundational Thinking
  • State Censuses
  • The 1880 Defective and Delinquent Schedule
  • How to Customize Your Ancestry Homepage
  • How to Use Filters on Last Names in Ancestry Search
  • What is a Census Record?
  • Meet the Ancestry App: Your Family Story Anytime, Anywhere
  • Seek and Ye Shall Find: Become an Ancestry Search Expert

Start Your Free Family Tree

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Find A Grave Memorials

I try to conclude each person’s story with their burial.  I do this because the burial represents their resting place.  Previously, it was quite difficult for family historians to find the graves and headstones of their ancestors…unless of course they had a lot of time and money on their hands to go grave hunting in various places.

I do not have that luxury.  So I have found that the Find A Grave website has been an invaluable asset in finding out where my ancestors are resting and obtaining photos of their headstones.

Search 159.7 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search:

In most cases, I’ve been lucky enough that somebody has already taken and posted a photo of my ancestor’s headstone on the website.  In some cases, no such luck.  When I do find a memorial for one of my ancestors on the website, I double check the accuracy of the information in the memorial against the research that I’ve done so far on that ancestor.  If anything needs to be corrected, I submit the corrections so that the memorial is accurate for other family historians and family members.

When I don’t find a memorial, I will make every attempt to get a photo and create a memorial for them.  Unfortunately, if I don’t know where the ancestor is buried, I can’t create a memorial.  So I do have a few family members that still need memorials and I am working to find the appropriate information to get those created.


Grave Hunting

So grave hunting may sound a little creepy.  What I mean by this is I go hunting in nearby cemeteries for specific graves.  There are people, just like me, that are searching for the graves of their family members for various reasons.  If they are unable to find them, they may submit a photo request asking for someone in the local area to go take a picture and post it online for them.

Since I rely on this in order to find my own family members, I feel it is important for me to give back.  So when I find photo requests for graves near where I live, I’ll take a trip out to the local cemetery and try to obtain that photo for them.

This week I requested a photo for Grover Thomas Beyl as he was the only ancestor I worked on recently that didn’t have a photo and doesn’t rest close enough that I can get it myself.

I know there are mixed feelings about people photographing headstones of people that aren’t their own family.  It is unfortunate that some folks get offended by this or when it causes unintended grief or heartache for someone.

I can say from my own personal experience, when I go out to a cemetery for this purpose, I pay the utmost respect to each grave I visit.  When there is trash around the area, I pick it up.   When there is overgrowth growing on the headstone, I pull it and clean it up.  When the flowers and memorabilia have fallen over, I pick them up and set them right.  This is just my way of paying respect to our ancestors before us…whether they are my direct ancestor or not.


Grave Tagging

I found another website this week that is trying to provide services similar to Find A Grave.  Billion Graves sends volunteers out to local cemeteries to take photos of the headstones in each cemetery.  As you take the photos, Billion Graves attaches a GPS tag to that headstone.  This allows people to find the graves of their family members online and know exactly where they are on the map.

This week I tagged 562 graves in a local cemetery.

March 26 2017 GT

Graves I Tagged This Week


They also have people transcribing the headstones so that they are searchable within the database.  This allows family historians like myself to find the resting places of their family members as well as obtain the dates of their birth and death.

This week I transcribed 105 headstones.

March 26 2017 T

Graves I Transcribed This Week


Wow, so I did a lot of extra credit work this week!  I feel good in that I am able to give back in these ways to help others do the same things that I’m doing for their own families.  It was a busy week indeed, but I feel quite happy with the amount of things I was able to accomplish this week.

With that…it’s time to start next week!

Take care,



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