Showing posts with label cousin bait. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cousin bait. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Ancestor Landing Pages: Summaries and Cousin Bait

As shown above, my genealogy blog includes tabs for a series of "landing pages," mostly devoted to summarizing what I know about key ancestors in my family tree and hubby's family tree.

I established the first of these ancestor landing pages more than 6 years ago, and expanded until now I have 14 such landing pages. Each tells the story, in brief, of an ancestral couple or family. When I blog about one of those ancestors or families, I update the landing page with a link to the newest post. This enables anyone who searches for that surname to see, at a glance, what I've learned about that family and what I'm still learning or wondering about.

In addition, I have a landing page devoted to hubby's Mayflower ancestors. The remaining 3 landing pages include links to free genealogy resources, sample templates for family history, and my genealogy presentations.

McClure, Larimer, and Schwartz

By page views, the three most popular ancestor landing pages are:

  • Halbert McClure and family from Donegal. This is the Scots-Irish ancestor of my husband who had enough money to sail, with many members of his family, from the north of Ireland to Philadelphia. The family then walked to Virginia to buy farm land. 
  • Robert & Mary Larimer. According to my husband's grandfather, family lore has it that Robert Larimer was sent from the North of Ireland to America to make his way in the world. Alas, he was shipwrecked en route and forced to work off the cost of his rescue. 
  • Schwartz family from Ungvar. This is my maternal grandfather's family. Born and raised in what is now Uzhorod, Ukraine, Grandpa Teddy was the first in his family to leave for America. Soon he sent for an older brother and together, they saved their nickels and sent for a baby sister.
Cousin Bait

My landing pages are attracting thousands of views, so I know people are finding them via online search. Sometimes people even leave me a comment or write me c/o my blog to discuss possible family connections.

More than once, a cousin I didn't know I had (or couldn't find) has landed on my blog and gotten in touch with me. Genealogy blogs are excellent cousin bait, and ancestor landing pages increase the odds of being found via online searches.

Monday, April 8, 2019

DNA Plus Trees Equals Cousin Bait

MyHeritage profile is temporarily empty, soon to be filled!
This week's #52Ancestors prompt is DNA. For years, my main genealogy site has been Ancestry, in part because of the size of its DNA base and because my multiple, ever-growing family trees are all housed there. Thousands of ancestors, counting his and her trees, some with thousands of hints to be examined.

My DNA and hubby's DNA also appear on Gedmatch, because of the tools available for analysis and because we can fish for matches among all people using that site, regardless of where they originally tested.

I created a basic tree for him and for me on Gedmatch, and also listed major surnames so people browsing matches can quickly see how we might match, as cousin bait.

New Site for DNA Cousin Bait

Now I admit, I'm often frustrated by how many Ancestry DNA matches have no family tree, or only a few names, or a private tree only.

So now that I just subscribed to MyHeritage, to more intensively research my husband's British, Irish, and Scottish ancestry, I'm transferring my DNA and hubby's DNA there too.

With the new site, I need to complete my profile (sadly empty, as shown above) and plant my family trees as cousin bait. I began with a photo and basics...

More Hints Too

Since I sync my Ancestry trees with my RootsMagic 7 software, I will be able to upload an updated Gedcom tree for myself and my hubby onto MyHeritage with little effort. Thanks to the RootsMagic Users group on Facebook, I learned how to export a Gedcom with living people marked as private.

Now I can take advantage of both Ancestry and MyHeritage hints through RootsMagic, as shown here.

Make it easy for DNA matches to see the family tree(s), and we just might get better answers to our notes or possibly hear from matches who take the initiative to reach out to us! Cousin bait.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Genealogy Blog as Cousin Bait

Hubby's ancestor Benjamin McClure was a 19th-century civic leader in Wabash, Indiana
Last Sunday, I watched a very interesting live webinar by Tammy Hepps, "Technology for Cousin Bait That Works." Tammy's main point: Cousins and genealogy researchers can't find us if our content (written and/or illustration) doesn't appear in the first page or two of search results.

And lucky for me, Elizabeth O'Neal's Genealogy Blog Party this month is all about tuning up our blogs. She has links to lots of ways to test blogs, analyze search rankings, and improve the look and content of our blogs.

Here's what I did to I tune up my blog as cousin bait.

Search Like a Cousin

What, exactly, will attract a cousin? One 2d cousin found my blog because I had written about a synagogue where our ancestors were married. When she did an online search to learn more about that synagogue, my blog post ranked high in the results. She clicked to read more...and, happily for me and my family, she contacted me! One of my friends occasionally receives inquiries from people who find her blog because she posted about an orphanage where her ancestors were placed.

To search like a cousin, think like a cousin. Try searches using key words that might attract our cousins, including surnames and related key words. So far, I have been pleased with the results rankings.

Blogger already allows me to assign "labels" (key words) for each blog entry (such as a surname or a topic). I also list key words in my blog's description, and have changed these over time. Since I can't always predict what a cousin will look for, I go beyond surnames to include religious institutions, places, and so forth.

Surnames and Easy Contact

You can see the main surnames I'm researching along the right side of my blog.  Plus along the top of my blog, I have a series of "landing pages" for main surnames and the stories of those ancestors or families. I want these to be visible and I want cousins to know I welcome contact, as Tammy suggested.

In the past couple of years, I added a contact gadget just above the surname listing. Currently, I receive 1-2 inquiries every month. Not everyone who uses the contact gadget turns out to be a cousin, but I still appreciate that they make the effort to get in touch.

Blog Tune Up: Subheads and Captions

Yet another place to insert key words, Tammy noted, is in subheads of blog posts. Who knew? So now I'm tuning up my blog to add subheads, an easy tweak that might boost a post's rankings in search results when cousins go looking for their FAN club. Also, I'm going back to writing captions that include surnames and other key words, such as shown at top.

Finally, blog content must look good on mobile devices, an important criterion used by search engines. Mine looks fine on a small screen, according to the preview in my Blogger dashboard.

If you're reading this on your phone or pad, doesn't Benjamin McClure (1812-1896) look like a determined pioneer farmer and respectable civic leader?!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Preview of My Year in Genealogy - 2019


I'm looking forward to a busy and rewarding year of #genealogy challenges, fun, breakthroughs, and connections in 2019.

As mentioned in my previous post, I went happily down the rabbit hole of unexpected family history developments in 2018 (including the very welcome surprise of receiving Farkas Family Tree documents, related to my mother's family, to scan, index, and share with cousins).

That's why I didn't accomplish all I'd planned to do when I previewed my 2018 agenda at the end of last December, so these two items are carried over to 2019.
  • I have two new family memory booklets in the planning stages. One will be about my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk, 1919-1981) and her twin sister (Dorothy Helen Schwartz, 1919-2001). The other will be about my husband's parents (Marian McClure Wood, 1909-1983 and Edgar James Wood, 1903-1986).
  • I was planning more intensive investigations of my DNA matches, beginning with color-coding matches to see who fits where in the family tree. Then I heard about DNA Painter at RootsTech2018. Still, this went to the back burner in 2018. Not sure whether DNA will be a front-burner activity in 2019, but I will follow up the most promising of my DNA matches.
Another "resolution" for 2019 is to continue my genealogy education through attendance at Family Tree Live (London) and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference (Washington, D.C.). It will be wonderful to meet other genealogy buffs, chat with speakers, and connect with blogging/tweeting friends in person at these conferences. 

Most of all, I am excited about staying in touch with my cousins--perhaps even making contact with cousins I didn't know about. The family tree is alive with leaves representing cousins of all ages, all over the world, connected by our #familyhistory. I am so grateful for you, cousins, sharing what you know about our ancestors and forging new bonds that we hope will endure into the next generation.


This "resolutions" post is the final #52Ancestors challenge for 2018. As always, thank you to Amy Johnson Crow for a year of thought-provoking prompts. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Most Popular Genealogy Blog Pages in 2017

In 2017, the most popular page on my blog was the "ancestor landing page" devoted to hubby's 5th great-grandfather, Halbert McClure from Donegal. Also popular were the landing pages about the Larimer family, Schwartz family, Birk family, Bentley family, and Wood family of Ohio.

These landing pages summarize what I know about each main surname or family on my tree and my husband's tree, including links to my blog posts about those names/families written in more than 9 years of blogging. And yes, these pages are cousin bait that have brought me new connections over the years!

One other popular page was my Genealogy--Free or Fee page, with links to 17 posts I wrote about frugal research strategies and when it pays to pay for a document.

The other popular page features Sample Templates (for inventory, indexing, cousin connections, and genealogy sources) I invite you to try or adapt for your own genealogy purposes.

Happy ancestor hunting in 2018! More to come.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Family History Month: Ancestor Landing Pages as Cousin Bait

Yes, ancestor landing pages really work as cousin bait--attracting people (often real relatives!) whose online search for a particular surname brings them to my blog pages.

To see what I mean, you can click on one or two of the landing pages across the top of this blog page, the tabs with titles like "Wm Tyler Bentley's story" and "Abraham & Annie Berk's story." 

I first put up ancestor landing pages in January, 2013, after reading about the idea on Caroline Pointer's blog.

I use these to summarize what I know about each surname or family in the various family trees that I'm researching. I include not only photos and sometimes documents, but also links to specific blog posts about that person or family.

Six months after first setting up these landing pages, I had views but no cousin connections. In the nearly five years since I first posted these pages, I've gotten thousands of views and have actually connected with a number of cousins as well!

So if you have a blog or are thinking about creating one, consider landing pages or a similar mechanism. As you can see from the current statistics in the table at top, people keep clicking on my pages. Most aren't related to my ancestors or my husband's ancestors, but the few who are related (or researching a particular name) know how to get in touch via my blog now.

By the way, the McClure family from Donegal is by far my most popular landing page. Second-most popular is the page I created with free sample forms and templates from my genealogy book, Planning a Future for Your Family's Past.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blogiversary #6: Blessed with Cousin Connections

Meyer Mahler and Tillie Jacobs Mahler and family, early 1900s
Six years ago, I began my blog with a post wondering when my great-grandpa Meyer Elias Mahler--the gentleman seated at right in this photo--died. (Answer: 1910).

That same summer, I made my first big cousin connection, with the Wood family genealogist who showed hubby how his ancestors are descended from Mayflower passengers. Blogging as cousin bait!

Since then, I've connected with cousins on both sides of my and my hubby's families and expanded our family trees and family stories all over the map. What a joyful journey it's been to "meet" (in person, online, or on the phone) cousins from these extended families (and related families): Burke/Berk, Bentley, Farkas, Mahler, Markell, McClure, Roth, Larimer, Schwartz, Slatter, Steiner, Weiss, and Wood

Some cousins weren't interested in being "found" and simply didn't answer my calls or e-mails or letters. In the past six years, only one cousin has actually told me to buzz off. Before I sent his e-mail to my "junk" file, I saved his final words to share here. He wrote:
There is no need to reply to this email nor any purpose in further
correspondence with me in the future.
Thank you to all my wonderful, loving cousins who have enriched my life and given me so many ideas and so much support as I research the relationships that connect us. The genealogy journey continues!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Genealogy Resolutions

After this remarkable year of cousin reunions and brickwalls being dissolved, I have a new set of genealogy resolutions for 2014.
  1. Focus by ignoring. I'm clicking to "ignore" Ancestry hints for ancestors who are really distant. Do I really need to see a record about the "father-in-law of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 1x removed" in my family tree? No. With more than 2,000 hints, I have to learn to ignore!
  2. Identify my main ancestor targets. Too many ancestors, too little time. Who do I really care about and what do I really need to know about those people? 
    • New for 2014: Confirm how the family of Elek Farkas from Botpalad, Hungary is related to the family of Moritz Farkas from Botpalad. There is a definite connection! But who's the link?
    • The following are carried over from 2013:
    • When did Tillie Jacobs Mahler and her children, Henrietta and David, arrive at Castle Garden in 1886? Where, exactly, were they from?
    • What about Tillie's parents, Julius Jacobs and Rachel Shuham?
    • What name did Tillie's husband Meyer Mahler use when arriving at Castle Garden in May, 1885?
    • Was Meyer Birk really Isaac Birk's brother? After living with Isaac and Isaac's future father-in-law (Meyer Mahler), what happened to Meyer Birk?
    • Where in New York state did William Tyler Bentley and his wife, Olivia Morgan, come from? Where/when did Olivia die? Olivia and William were the parents of Lucinda H. Bentley Shank, whose death cert appears above. It was the first critical evidence of Olivia's name and birthplace!
    • Where in Ireland were John and Mary Shehen (or Shehan) from? Who where their parents?
  3. Research key ancestors again. So many new documents, grave photos, and message-board posts have come online since I was bitten by the genealogy bug (in the last millennium!) that I need to research those names again. 
    • Redo a Google search with "First Last" and "Last, First," such as: "Benjamin McClure" and "McClure, Benjamin" AND add "genealogy" to avoid getting unrelated results.
    • Redo a Fold3 search for men who might have military records, as well as for people with naturalization papers.
    • Continue Ancestry searches because when I click on someone, Ancestry's "hints" come alive with new clues as well. (See Resolution #1: Ignore those for distant relatives.)
    • Redo a search on key surname message boards and locality message boards.
    • Redo a Find-a-Grave search for those whose graves I haven't found.
Happy new year and happy ancestor hunting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday's Tip: It Takes a Village to Trace a Tree

All of the family trees I'm working on have been "leafed out" with help from other people. Especially this year, I've learned that it truly takes a village to trace a tree. 

For example, Major James Elmer Larimer (hubby's first cousin, 4x removed), wrote to his mother, Asenath Cornwell Larimer, when he was fighting for the Union during the Civil War. At left, a page from one of his many letters--thanks to the gentleman who found me via this blog and who is now part of my village.

Here's how I make it easy for my village to exchange information:

1. My family trees on Ancestry are public (not living people, of course). That's how Philly Cuz found me and how the latest contact from a Wood cousin took place. 

2. I post about people and places on surname and locality message boards. If anybody out there is looking for Schwartz from Ungvar or Farkas from Botpalad or Bentley from Indiana (or California), they'll find my queries on message boards like Ancestry and GenForum. That's how I connected with Bentley researchers, for example.

3. I contact local genealogy clubs and historical societies. Just as one example, the fabulous folks at Elkhart County Genealogical Society provided numerous gravestone photos and probate court records for my research into the Larimer family.

4. I correspond with people who have posted on Find-a-Grave. Sometimes they have more photos they haven't had a chance to post--and among those photos are my ancestors. A very kind volunteer supplied exact directions to hubby's great-great-grand uncle's gravestone so we could visit this summer. Of course, I return the favor by posting photos of dozens of gravestones on F-a-G whenever I visit a cemetery.

5. I blog about my genealogy challenges and achievements. Thanks to this genealogy blog, I've been found by so many cousins! (You know who you are...) The blog also helps me explain to my newfound family what I know (or think I know) about a particular person or branch of the tree. In more than one case, my wonderful blog readers have been instrumental in identifying a person's uniform or place or period.

Thank you to my village!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Friends Friday: "Cousin" or Cousin?

JW is the dark-haired beauty second from right 
Family friends sometimes turn out to be distant cousins. That might the case with "Cousin JW," who I've recently located decades after her name last appeared in the Farkas Family Tree minutes.

A couple of months ago, my cousin loaned me 31 years of minutes from the monthly get-togethers of the children/grandchildren of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas. As I scanned and indexed all the documents, the name "JW" kept showing up--a name I didn't know.

I read about JW's college studies, how she lived with my great-uncle Albert Farkas and his wife Sari while in New York, and how the entire family was invited to her wedding. Later, JW wrote about her travels with her doctor husband, who served in the Korean War, and sent word when her daughters were born.

JW's oldest daughter has a distinctive name and when I did an online search for her, I found her! I wrote her via snail-mail, asking whether she knew of the Farkas Family Tree and saying how much I'd like to chat with her.

A week ago, a letter arrived from JW herself, saying she had been in the process of moving when her daughter received my letter. I called and learned that JW's parents always referred to the Farkas family as cousins, but we don't know exactly how we're cousins. She's going to dig up her grandparents' information to see whether we can pinpoint our mutual relatives back in Hungary, where these families are from. Fingers crossed that we can figure this out!

Cuz Betty immediately remembered JW and sent her and me the 1946 photo shown above (JW is the dark-haired beauty in the dark dress, sitting second from right). Whether she's Cousin JW or "Cousin JW," a close family friend, I'm so happy to have connected with her! And now other cousins are lining up to write and call JW. What a wonderful reunion it's turning out to be.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ancestor Landing Pages - New to My Blog

A wonderfully detailed blog post by Caroline Pointer on Blogging Genealogy gave me the idea of creating ancestor landing pages for key people or family branches on my tree.

Now, following Caroline's instructions, I've created four tabbed landing pages, two for ancestors in my family (Birk and Mahler) and two for ancestors in hubby's family (Slatter and Demarest).

Each ancestor landing page has:
  • An image of some sort, either the person's head shot or a document or place related to his or her life
  • An intro paragraph about the person, explaining:
    • why that person was important to the family 
    • why that person intrigues me 
    • what genealogical questions I want to answer
  • A quick summary of dates or other key facts about this person
  • A listing of that person's spouse and children (for handy reference)
  • A bullet list of links to posts I've written in the past about that person or that family
Caroline's method of listing bullet points linked to blog posts from the past is not just good cousin bait, it's a way to index what else is on the blog about a certain ancestor or family. Remember, I put a "Search this blog" widget high on my home page to encourage visitors to look for specific people or surnames. But summarizing every post in one landing page saves visitors (who might be cousins!) from having to hunt down and read many posts just to determine the connection between the families.

It was interesting to see how many times I've blogged about the Slatter family, for instance, whereas I've barely blogged about Mary Amanda Demarest--mainly because cousin Larry, the Wood family genealogist, had done so much detailed research into her background before I connected with him (via a surname message board) several years ago.

I'm still trying to figure out whether to use one tab* for husband/wife (like Meyer Mahler and Tillie Rose Jacobs Mahler) or have a single name on each tab. After all, I do want to feature the matriarchs who were vital to the history of the family tree! But IMHO, the tab title "Mayer Mahler's story" seems a bit more intriguing than "Meyer Mahler & Tillie Jacobs Mahler." Perhaps I'll change things later on, as I see how things work and think up new refinements.

*UPDATE: I've changed the tabs to show husband and wife, except for Mary A. Demarest. The lady ancestors deserve equal billing IMHO. Because the ancestor landing pages are attracting views and getting my surnames indexed in search engines, I expect to put more up in the future.