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TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1354976661000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1354976766000
Over the years I have developed several techniques for tracking people that I thought I might throw out there. If you have "invented" such a technique, please add it in a reply to this post.


I have created a custom fact called "top of line ancestor). I have several hundred ancestors of mine, many from New England ancestry, that come from approximately 150 immmigrants. For each immigrant (top of line), I put the surname of that line in the description field. If the same surname for several ancestors, I add the first name. If a wife whose surname is unknown, I will put something like "Mary, wife of John Doe". I can now create a custom report for these people, or create a filter for them.

TOP OF (European) LINE (to me)

Here I have created a custom fact called "Top of European Line" and put the surname in that dsecription field of that person.


Over the years, you may add a bunch of people who are related to you in one way or another. But, as the years go by, you don't remember how. You could go to the Relationship Calculator; but often you just want a "quick glance" at the lines we have in common. I create a custom fact called "common lines" (meaning ancestral lines in common with me). For example, I have all of the New England presidents in my file (except Obama - I'll try to catch him with the next issue of AAP - Ancestors of American Presidents). I usually have at least one New England ancestral line in common with each one - sometimes more than one ancestral line. If I share Smith, Jones and Doe New England ancestors, I will put those surname in the description field of that person / president. I do with this with correspondent (or ancestors of correspondents) as well. If I want to see how those lines are created, I can refer to the relationship calculator, or to the outline descendant report - direct line.


I often have descendants down other branches of ancestors. This is particularly true of New England ancestors. I will often fill out a line of ascent, at least for their surname line, like:

John-1 Smith
or his son
David-2, John-1 Smith
or his son
William-3, David-2, John-1 Smith.

In my surname study, for example, I may have 75 William Smiths. I find it useful to distinguish them to have their line on the Person page so I can quickly see which William this William is.

I will often use this this custom fact for the first generaton or two of a female line. But I often don't go beyond that. (If I were to add the line of ascent for each of my female lines, I would have to add 149 custom facts to my person page - which clutters things up quite a bit. I have web pages that show those lines.


Most people with New England ancestry share ancestry with millions of Americans - some of whom are famous (or infamous). From Wild Bill Hickok to Laura Ingalls to Johnny Appleseed to Lady Diane to the New England Presidents to whoever. One of the fun things to do with our hobby is to figure out we are related to these people. Once I have figured out I am related to a famous New Englander, I put the famous person's name in the description field of the ancestors of that famous person - so I will recognize them when I run across them. And, in the Notable person's Person Page, I will enter our common ancestral line or lines in the description field of the "common lines" above.


This custom fact is the same as "Ancestor of Notabel Person", but presidents only.


I'm usually not too concerned with descendants of notable persons, but when I run across them and put them into my database; I will enter the famous person's name in the description field of this fact for each descendant.

Do you have other ways of identifying or describing people in your database?

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355273389000
Classification: Query
After spending a couple of months discovering what DOESN'T transfer well via Gedcom files, I am steering away from using the description fields in Ancestry or FTM2012 which gets merged with the place field in gedcoms. I have also discovered that many custom facts get lost in the gedcom transfer as well.

I like the idea of being able to quickly identify the top of the line surname - or at least the Ahrenfadel ancestor who connects an individual to my family line. I will have to give this some more thought and play with the gedcom transfers to see what works well in all directions.

For me personally, I found myself with a ton of married women whose maiden name was unknown. I quickly discovered that leaving the surname blank was a huge mess trying to figure out which "Mary" was the one I needed in the master list of names. The trick I finally came up with that transfers well in gedcoms and shows up in the master list of names is to enter the married name in the surname field and then in the SUFFIX field enter the phrase (Married). Since the suffix field is unused for women, this doesn't interfere with any other data. This has been a fantastic fix that allowed me to quickly find the correct person and also allowed me to identify several duplicate individuals in my tree.

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355280731000
Classification: Query
It would be far better if FTM supported the NAME.TYPE tag. Which is what I use in my primary DB but does not transfer to FTM.

The NSFX tag is a workaround that whould cause problems for times when you want to enter Jr. III or where a topographic name might be entered.

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355327071000
Classification: Query

"(except Obama - I'll try to catch him with the next issue of AAP - Ancestors of American Presidents)."

He is in the 2009 edition of Gary Boyd Roberts' book

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355327175000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1355327254000
Thanks. Shows how much I am behind. Now to see if my library has that one. I don't want to spend $$ just to update from my 10 year old one.

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355348286000
Classification: Query
Why would you want to do that

Ancestors of American Presidents

Posted: 1355351366000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1355403930000
Hmmm. I'm not sure if that is a political comment I should leave alone or if you're asking a serious genealogy question. I'll just assume you're asking a genealogical question.

I am one of probably half of the Caucasian race of Americans who are descended from the approximately 20,000 Puritans - immigrants to New England from 1630-1650. Their descendants include a group of presidents which can be called "the New England" presidents.

I understand President Obama is in that group, but he was elected too recently to be in the AAP book that I have. This book presents six? (or more?) generations of ancestors in ahnentafel format for each president.

If one compares their own ahnentafel to a president's ahnentafel, one can often see if there is a possibility of having an immigrant ancestor in common. Since Obama is certainly more than six generations from most New England immigrants, tieing into his ahnentafel will be harder than earlier ones - as you have more generations to tie him back to an immigrant - or a nearest common ancestor.

In case you really want be bored about this subject, I have prepared a presidents' page for me and my cousins for the presidents that we are related to through my maternal grandparents. My cousins and I are cousins to 14 New England presidents through 37 immigrant New England ancestors.

This is one of those fun parts of my little genealogy hobby. And, yes, I realize that some links on these pages, which I put up about 10-15 years ago, are dead links. I'll have to update them (or remove them) one of these days. Some are still good, though.

Re: Ancestors of American Presidents

Posted: 1355354082000
Classification: Query
I completely "get" it. I have a major genealogy project - working on the genealogy of a town for their 150 year celebration in 2018. I started the research on the project about 35 years ago and have volumes of paper files that I have been gradually entering into the computer and validating the data via online and county records. I spend about 30 hours per week on the project. After awhile it gets tedious and I just want something to do just for the fun of it.

Hence, I have a separate tree that I started that just has the genealogy of the royal lines through history. I find interesting published histories and photos that I include in the tree. I just key in the birth death and marriage info and then have fun finding new information to attach. It is a nice break from the larger project and renews my energy and keeps me interested in genealogy. It isn't lost time either. I do have a tie to one of the royal lines (Sir Francis Bryan who was in the court of Henry VIII), so it is fun to see how the relationship calculator plays with the new entries.

I also have found my link to two of the "New England" presidents, so that ends up linking in to several others in interesting ways. Did you know that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Bush are related through a distant common link. I find it interesting when such ironic twists pop up in the tree.

Re: Ancestors of American Presidents

Posted: 1355396686000
Classification: Query
Silverfox3280 12 Dec 2012 comment

“Hmmm. I'm not sure if that is a political comment I should leave alone or if you're asking a serious genealogy question. I'll just assume you're asking a genealogical question.”

It should be discussed as a serious genealogical subject, because that is what it is.

President Obama’s Ancestors on his mother’s side can be very easily traced back to New England, Europe and back to the “European” Royalty

If you investigate his mother’s ancestors you will see names and places such as Dunham [A staid Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England; Plymouth County, Massachusetts; New Jersey; and Virginia family], Armour [Kansas], FitzRandolph [Nottingham, England; Scituate, Massachusetts; Barnstable, Massachusetts; and New Jersey], Ballou [Leiden, Holland], Delano [where have you heard that name before?, Massachusetts], Morton, Blossom, etc

Generally the “family” immigrated to the “Plymouth County” Massachusetts area in the very early 1600’s, made their way to the Barnstable area, then to New Jersey in the early 1700’s, to Virginia in the middle 1700’s, then to Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, and then to Hawaii where the President was born

His family is not unlike many other early New England families ------ Staying in New England for a considerable time and then on to New Jersey and then the slow trek west.

Through the Dunham, FitzRandolph, Ballou and Morton surnames he is related to many families in the United States [and “Europe” Royalty] who also came to the Plymouth area in the early 1600’s

My “family”, as apparently did silverfox’s, came to New England in the very early 1620’s, stayed there for a few hundred years and then did the same trek west. So I have a lot of “European Royalty", Mayflower Passengers, and U.S. Presidential Ancestors/Relationships ---- a much unexpected set of findings after our family working on this genealogy for over a hundred years. I too like silverfox have created special books, charts, etc to describe all of this

So another answer to the question is “It is a natural fall out for people investigating their families who came into the Plymouth Colony area in the early 1600’s”

For those interested in the subject I point you to two books, both by Gary Boyd Roberts ---“The Royal Descendants of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies or the United States” and “Ancestors of American Presidents”

Re: TIP: Ways of Identifying People in Your Data Base

Posted: 1355999041000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1355999763000
Not sure if this is relevant. I use manual Person ID's, a variation of Dollarhide numbering with initials to identify a root. However, these do not show in the index. To get round this I insert the person ID into the name suffix field surrounded by {}. Like another poster I also use the suffix field for identifying wives for which I have no maiden name but this does not interfere. The reason for the {} is that if you need to write a report without those suffixes then copy the database and do a wildcard find and replace of "{*}" with "" to get rid of them. Do your report and then delete the copy.

Another advantage of this and the numbering is that I can easily filter the tree relative to a given root by filtering in name contains {"RootInitials". ({DN for example)
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