Looking up Spouse Parents on FindaGrave

Have you ever been given genealogy info on the spouse of someone in your family tree and it contains something like, “Daughter of Ken Casey and Vivian Riker”? Is this info something you should save in your tree? Where should you save it?

Yes, I have seen this MANY times. I often see this on FindaGrave memorials as well and I wonder why more people don’t search for and add the links to the parents instead of just adding it to the bio text. I have made it a practice to do so and I hope it is helpful for others.

I think that yes, you should save info on parents of spouses. It substantiates the spouse of a relative and may provide valuable clues to help figure out relationships and whereabouts for people that you are actually related to. Where do I draw the line you ask? Well, I do record multiple spouses, but I may not record children of those marriages. Sometimes I do, if I feel that the info could be useful down the line. You never know when a cousin-by-marriage will have info on the family, or even those golden nuggets – pictures! While I do save the parents of spouses, I draw the line there. I’m not going to chase back lines that aren’t related to our family at all. When I first started I added everything to my tree and when I posted online I got more cousin inquiries from non-related lines than related! That took up a lot of time so I made the decision then that I had to limit it somewhere.

Where should you save it? I created a Custom Field in FTM called “Spousal Parentage”. First I add the names and sub any missing info with five underscores:

Joe SMITH & Jane _____

Next I attempt to find them in FindaGrave and add the FaG numbers after each like this:

_____ SMITH (12345) & Jane DOE (67890)

I have found several useful ways to search FaG to find the parents:

  1. Search the same cemetery for the surname. For men you can search using the handy links that FaG provides below the memorial info. You can also try searching the county and possibly even the state but that may return more hits than you would like. For women you will need to click on the name of the cemetery and then search it using the surname desired.
  2. If that doesn’t show anyone then I do a new FaG search and enter the father’s first name, surname and then:
    1. Year Born=the person’s birth date – 10 years (i.e., if they were born in 1811 I would enter 1801. This is a save number because the parents didn’t have children before they were 10 years old.
    2. Next change Exact to Before (very important).
  3. If that doesn’t have any results try entering the state the person was born in as the parents may still live there, then try the state they died in.
  4. When you get hits look to see if there is a link to the spouse, if so then, more than likely, you have the correct parents. If not, then search the cemetery because they might just not be linked up.

This is a progressive and logical way to search for the parents. I have had much success with it and I hope it helps you too.

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Maintaining Estimated Death Facts

What does adding estimated death dates do for me? If a person is marked as deceased then it won’t be privatized online. This means that others will be able to view info for this person. It also gives me a list of people to search for death certificates and FindaGrave records.

Here is my Citation Text for Estimated Death:

– If ‘current year’ – 110 < ‘birth year’, then  deceased
(i.e., 2018 – 110 = 1908 < ‘birth year’ = deceased – if born before 1908 = deceased).

– Unlink when other source citations are found for Death Fact. There should only be Deceased in Death Fact.

When a source citation is found that provides a more accurate death date the estimated date is no longer needed. As part of my maintenance I go through my list of Death Source Citations and delete those that I forgot when adding other Source Citations.

(also see Estimated Birth Facts)

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Maintaining Estimated Birth Facts

I estimate birth and death dates. Some people don’t think this is a wise practice as the estimates can be incorrect and possibly scew search results or miss them altogether but I have found that an approximate date actually helps me find records and helps to narrow down searches.

What does adding estimated birth dates do for me? It allows me to figure out a general time frame for family members. There is a range of error involved (abt 10 yrs either way) but the formulas that I have figured out and use have worked well. Also, if I have an approximate birth date it helps me figure out if the person is deceased or not – more on approximate death dates in another post.

Here is my Citation Text for Estimated Birth:
– Father’s birth date +22.
– Mother’s birth date +20.
– Spouse’s birthday +2 for females, -2 for males.
– Siblings +2 (after parent’s marriage date).
– Unlink when other source citations are found for Birth Fact. There should only be Abt 0000 in Birth Fact.

When a source citation is found that provides a more accurate birth date the estimated date is no longer needed. As part of my maintenance I go through my list of Birth Source Citations and delete those that I forgot when adding other Source Citations.

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Filling In Dates for Civil Facts

I recently figured out that I have quite a few Civil Facts without dates. Places are great but they are most helpful when paired with a date. I found that most of the Source Citations that go with these Civil Facts are marriage and SSDI.

  1. Filter the list: Filter In>All Facts>Civil>Place>Is Not Blank.
  2. Customize View>Individual Facts>Civil
  3. Go to each person on filtered list and open the Source Citation for the cooresponding Civil Fact.
  4. Copy/paste the date.

For marriage records: Use the license date if provided, otherwise the marriage date.

For SSDI records: Use the date of issue, not the death date.

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Did My Cousin Really Marry a Cousin?

Today it’s time to check Cousin Marriages. Go to Publish>Person Reports>Data Error Report and change settings where Errors To Include=Spouses have the same last name. Be sure to include All Individuals. Export to CSV and open in Numbers (Excel for PC users).

Now go back to the People tab and search for at least one person of each couple that appears on the report. (Hint: Toggle between Numbers and FTM using Command-Tab.) Check to see if both people really should have the same last name. Sometimes when you merge records it is easy to overwrite a last name with the one that is being merged. This seems to be especially common with women. If you have proof that they are indeed cousins I add “(cousins)” in the Marriage Description Fact. If I don’t have proof then I add “(cousins?)” in the same Fact.

My next step will be to try and figure out what degree of cousins they are, i.e., 1st Cousins, 2nd Cousins, etc. and add that to the description as well. I also plan to revisit all the unknown cousins to see if I can prove or disprove. When I do, I’ll mark them as ‘checked’ so that I know what I have already worked on.

Happy Late Valentine’s Day! How many Cousin Marriages to you have in your database?

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Adding Date for SSDI Civil Fact

So, the merging of SSDI info into FTM has changed a few times. I recently noticed that it added a ‘Civil’ Fact. After opening the cooresponding source citation I figured out that this info was coming from ‘State (Year) SSN issued’. There usually is a date associated with it or ‘before 0000’. This info is helpful because it puts a time frame with a place. Here is how I add the date to go with the Civil Fact.

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Save time – Wait to Resolve Places

Are you fixing each and every Place after every merge? If so you might be able to save some time and clicks by waiting until the end of your ‘genealogy session’ and doing them all at once, especiallly if the people you are working on are all in the same area. You have a couple of choices to accomplish this task.

The first option is to use Tools > Resolve All Place Names. This works well if you don’t have many UNresolved places already. I have quite a few that I am working on so this isn’t the best option for me right of the bat.

The second option is to go to the Places tab and click the button to ‘show place names as a flat list (hierarchy off)’. Then click the button to ‘collapse all nodes’. This will now show ‘unresolved place names’ and also ‘ignored place names’.

I have found that I can quickly resolve a majority of my unresolved place names by searching for the text ‘United States’. Enter ‘United States’ in the ‘Find’ field. It will find the first occurance quickly. Click the ‘Resolve Place Name’ button in the right-hand panel and check to make sure that you replace with the correct name. Replace, click the ‘collapse nodes’ again, click the right arrow to find the next occurrence. Repeat as needed. This should significantly reduce the number of unresolved places before using option number one.

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