An Honest Review of House Elves Anonymous’ – “Our Family Tree Index”

As everyone knows, technology is being used more and more when it comes to the digitisation of records and it can also be the place where you keep all of your family history files but again as everyone knows technology can fail! Take my own experience, about a few months ago the flash drive which I had my 3 years of family history research and files on had failed. Thankfully, I had done a back up a few days prior to this, so if I didn’t do that back up, I would’ve lost everything! Then it got me thinking, I need to have a physical copy and then I came across this “Family Tree Index” book from House Elves Anonymous, Sarah of HEA kindly sent me a copy to review and tell you all about it!

Contents page (Courtesy of House Elves Anonymous)

So, this book is a index for you and your direct ancestors (that’s 12 generations) before you, that’s 4,095 people!

It comes with a fan chart with an easy system to follow:

  • Even numbers = the men in the family
  • Odd numbers = the women in the family

Each page on from that is dedicated for each ancestor and for each generation with generation charts (e.g. all 5x great grandparents go on one page) and if that wasn’t enough there is plenty of space to write notes and for those who are new to DNA, there’s a cousin chart at the back of the book with DNA percentages of how many cM (centimorgans – the unit of measuring DNA) would be shared with cousins.

I had compared this book to one I already have. This one is much more spacious with plenty of writing room to write in notes and much, much, more! So I think this book is ideal for someone starting out and wanting to write it all down somewhere!

Introducing you to #BWBHour

Hitting a brick wall in your research? I have plenty! Well, as you might know – I run a Twitter chat from 7-8pm UK time on a Sunday evening called #BWBHour (short for Brick Wall Busters) It is a time where those who have hit a dead end can come and ask for help & advice in their research.

I started it back in April 2020 as I wanted to bring people together to help each other with genealogy because as the saying goes “a problem shared, is a problem halved” (or sometimes it might be solved) Some people have found this a helpful outlet for genealogy chit-chat or a new thing to work on! At the moment BWBHour is on Twitter and has a Facebook group and the conversation can be followed here. (There may be an Instagram page coming – but at the time of writing there isn’t one)

So how does it work? Well you can either submit a brick wall through the website or post it up in a tweet with the hashtag #BWBHour or you can even put the brick wall in the Facebook group too!

Tell us your thoughts in the comments & stay tuned for more…

An Interview with Eric Schubert of ESGenealogy – December 21st, 2019

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Well on the Hidden Branch, we love to find teenagers interested in Genealogy and this one has made his name shine over the US particularly in New Jersey, it’s Eric Schubert! Let’s hear what he had to say in response to the questions that Daniel put to him…

1) What got you into genealogy & how long have you been researching for?
“My grandparents all passed away in a year span when I was younger, and around that same time I used to be home sick a lot – which gave me a lot of free time. My Mom saw a genealogy commercial and suggested I maybe check that out to pass the time. I did, and the rest is history! I was probably around 9 then and have been researching since then, so almost ten years of research at this point.”

2) What interesting things have you discovered about your ancestors?
“I would say one of the most interesting things is that my surname really isn’t Schubert – it’s Grzegorzewski. My paternal grandfather changed it right before he was married. It’s on his baptismal record and all records of his parents, etc. No idea where Schubert came from. It’s supposedly my 4x great grandmother’s maiden name on that line – my father’s grandfather’s great grandmother. Lot of greats! That whole paternal line is just so fascinating. And tricky! I also discovered I have pretty deep New England roots, many of my direct ancestors founded towns and are on monuments like the Founders Monument in Hartford, CT.”

3) Who/What are you currently focusing on in your research?
“I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I’ve dug into my own tree as I focus mainly on clients. But, I will say I am always looking for information on my paternal line. The most mysterious! It’s a unique situation. I think I have my great great grandfather, his parents, and his family coming over to America, however it doesn’t all fit. The surname is right, however many of the first names are wrong – but it’s a unique surname, the year is right, the ages match the children, and they are coming in at the right port! So, I’m kind of stuck. I revisit it every time I get the chance. I think it has to be them, but I just can’t prove it – so for now, I’m at a standstill”

4) Have you come across any difficulties while researching your family (e.g. Conflicting sources)

“I can’t think of a few in particular, but definitely. There almost always are conflicting sources at times due to possible human transcription error, that sort of thing. One example I can think of though actually is my great grandmother’s birth date. She was born in England, but there is no record of it – although, there is one for all her siblings. So that’s odd for starters. Her headstone lists her birth year at 1900, which I know is wrong because she immigrated in 1902 around the age of 4/5/6. Her death certificate lists it as 1907, which I definitely know is wrong. The exact date is also up for debate, but my great uncle, her son (she died young, unfortunately) said it was definitely in September. Circumstantially, I believe her birthdate is September 28th, 1897 – but there’s a billion other options.”

5) What advice would you give to people wanting to start genealogy?
“Don’t take everything you think you know about your family tree as fact. Let the records guide you first! Look closely, always.”

6) Do you think there is enough places/sitesĀ for kids & teens to get into genealogy?

“Yes, and I think it’s growing daily! Which, is great.”

Don’t forget to follow him on his social media below (and check out his website here)

Before you start researching what should you do? – November 6th, 2019

Now before you start putting information into a family tree, you need to get that information which gives my first tip:

  1. Ask your family members, grandparents and get any nuggets of information that you can get e.g. Names of ancestors, dates, places, ask about photographs of ancestors. Stories from grandparents about their lives can be of use too!
  2. Keep a written & electronic record of information you’ve gathered so you can easily refer back to it at a later date. A binder would be a good place to keep all written information safe. A folder on a USB or a form of cloud storage e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive etc…
  3. See if anyone has already done some research, they may be able to assist you on your genealogy journey as there is no point trying to get over that hurdle if it’s already been passed.
  4. Try and include a family member in your research journey, it’s much more fun with others!
  5. I would also try and look online & see what’s available to you e.g. census records, birth, marriage & death records etc… so that you know what you can find when you start.

And finally: Never be afraid to ask others questions on anything in your journey. As always, stay tuned for more! Let us know your thoughts or if you have any questions in the comments below!

Introducing you to Walk My Past – February 1st, 2020

Now this site has been on the genealogy scene for quite a while and the founder Abbie Allen has a goal to get 1,000 genies on her website “Walk My Past”. At the time of writing this, she currently has 204 (2 of which are the Hidden Branch’s founders – Daniel & Emily) WMP has 54 help requests put up and 5 have been solved but the only way to solve them is by having more people join (so please do that you won’t regret it!) And since Walk My Past has made it into the genealogy website spotlight, it has received a lot of very high praise and has been able to help solve a number of brick walls for people. So what is Walk My Past’s mission?

  • To help people with their research where people can’t go themselves or are unable to travel for various reasons
  • To create a global network for people to help each other out whenever they need it
  • To provide a website that doesn’t have too many twists and turns when navigating

In my honest opinion, I have found Walk My Past to be a useful resource when I am researching and I know that if I can’t answer a question… Someone else may be able to help with it and I am always interested in new and exciting ways to bring the genealogy community closer together! She has also set up an easier way to talk to genies by creating a server on Mighty Networks. So go check her website out here!