Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making the Connection: Billiongraves to FamilySearch

One of the things you don’t think about when you volunteer time with FamilySearch and Billiongraves (via FamilySearch Tree Connect), is that the families on the receiving end have no idea that you are a volunteer.  

I began my volunteer work with Billiongraves (BG) back in December 2013, and in 2014 I started volunteering to connect Billiongraves images with the FamilySearch Tree Connect records suggested to match the BG images.  As my volunteer hours increased, so did the number of sources I matched with FamilySearch records.  In my mind I thought, “How great is this? People researching their families will now have a source linked to their file that may lead them to further information regarding their ancestors.”  What didn’t dawn on me was that the people seeing the sources added would assume that I am their relative.

For the most part, the emails I have received have been rather friendly and appreciative.  Each email has inquired as to my connection to the family and if I have any more documented information – or better yet, photographs.  I have had to reply with a standard email I put together given below:

Good morning.  I am thinking that the reason you reached out to me was in regard to a Billiongraves source attached to a FamilySearch file connected with your family line.  I am a volunteer with both Billiongraves and FamilySearch.  The FamilyConnect link with both sites allows for images from Billiongraves to be attached to files already in existence on FamilySearch.  Thousands of volunteers daily connect these source images with matching records.  Unfortunately, I am not related to the ___ family, but hope that the source attached to your tree was something your family was able to use.  Good luck in your family research efforts!

So far, the response to my email has been positive:

You are right that is why I reached out to you! Bless your heart for replying AND for your service. I love the new “record hints” on Family Search and I have attached sources to people who are not my line either, so I understand!  Thank you for responding!

I’m not certain if in the future FamilySearch will change their matching policy to merely indicate that the source was connected via FamilySearch and not show the name of the volunteer.  For now, I will continue to respond to these inquiries, as well as address what the FamilySearch Tree Connect feature is to those who attend my Family History Workshops and other Family History groups to which I belong.  

The partnership that BillionGraves and FamilySearch has made is a boon to many researchers, and I am excited to one day see that someone has attached a source previously unknown to me on my own tree!

To learn more about BillionGraves and FamilySearch, check out their sites at and 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Adventures in Grave Hunting!

Now that the winter has finally left Northern Virginia, I am able to get out and about and resume my hobby of grave hunting.  While that might seem creepy to some of you, or perhaps intriguing to others, it is a hobby that I find absolutely fascinating.

Each graveyard I come across holds a history of the people who lie resting there.  Some of the graveyards I find have been left abandoned for many years, while others are in current use.  My goal?  To restore the forgotten cemeteries and to document any and all graves I find on sites such as  (To learn more about their site, visit All entries made on their site is done by volunteers like me, who enjoy seeking out and making available documented records for people who are trying to locate their ancestors.

My travels this past month have led me to some very interesting places.  Check them out below.

Whitehall Cemetery
This is Whitehall Cemetery located in Nokesville, Virginia.  I had to jump a nasty muddy ditch and incline, cross barbed wire and downed trees to access this gem.  The graves date from the mid to late 1800s, and extend beyond what the photo shows.    From the road, you cannot see this graveyard unless you know it is there and what to look for.  This would make an awesome service project.

Next is a cemetery I named Nicol Cemetery, because of the family buried there.  I am waiting for information from the local historic society as to the original name on the records – if there is one.  This cemetery is in Brentsville, Virginia.  Look at what I had to cross to gain access!

Hidden Treasure!
 So, what is the purpose of seeking out these graveyards?  Think of the hours and time you have spent on researching your ancestor but can’t find that one piece of information to verify a name, marriage, parentage or birth/death date.  These stones speak volumes and open doors to further research in family lines.

I am fascinated by the people buried at these sites.  Each person has their own story, their own contribution to the community.  They each have their own place in history.  

If you have ancestors buried in the Northern Virginia area and would like to receive a photo of the gravesite, please email me at  If I can help, I’d be happy to do so!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Indexing Obituaries. Volunteer Today!

Have you tried your hand at Indexing?  How about Indexing Obituaries?  I recently had the pleasure of trying this particular indexing experience at RootsTech2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It is easy and very interesting.  Here is how to get started:

1. Download the indexing program.  Go to and click GET STARTED.

2. Sign in.  Open the program and sign in with your FamilySearch or LDS account.

3.  Download a batch.  Click the Download Batch button and select Show All Projects.  Look for any project that includes the word Obituaries.

4.  Index and Submit.  Follow the instructions provided as you index all of the names from each obituary in your batch.

5.  Keep Going.  Download another batch and keep going.  Every obituary indexed is another story ready to be told and another person waiting to be found.

(Taken from the FamilySearch Indexing flier given at RootsTech2014.)

Once you have tried your hand at indexing obituaries, share your experience!  Did you come across someone you or someone you know are related to?  Was there a story there that you would like to share?  Let's hear from you!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Welcome to The Golden Age of Genealogy!

Over the years I have had a few family blogs, but this is my first official genealogical blog.  It took me weeks and weeks to come up with a suitable name!  So many catchy names were already used, and others would have been cliché.  Why Golden Age?  In today’s technological world, it is truly a perfect time to be doing family history.   There is no greater time to be alive or dead when it comes to family history work.  An odd statement, I know.  But think of it this way, our ancestors want to be found and we want to find them.  So many avenues are being opened to make that happen.  It is truly a great time to research family history!  So, welcome to The Golden Age of Genealogy!

The purpose of this blog is to pass along genealogical news and tips as I come across them in my own journey in doing genealogical research.  I am human, however, and just like everyone else, I make mistakes.  So, please don’t take anything I say as pure gospel! But where I can pass on leads and useful information that may lead you in the right direction in doing your own family research, I am happy to oblige.  Just forgive me if I err.  When at all possible, I will make clear my source of the information provided, so that you can further delve into areas that are of interest to you.

A bit about me.  I am a mom of two wonderful kids, and married for over 25 years to my best friend.  I grew up as the daughter of professional genealogists and historians.  Since the age of 7, I have spent weekends and vacations in courthouse basements, cemeteries, archive buildings and interviewing the elderly.  Lucky for me, I enjoyed every minute of it!  Now, I spend anywhere for 40-60 hours a week doing research not only for myself, but for others as well.  When I am not researching, you can find me in abandoned cemeteries across Virginia doing what I can to restore them and keep the memory of those buried there alive.  Nights and rainy days have me curled up indexing or transcribing on  I live and breathe genealogy!  Crazy! I know! 

I hope you enjoy The Golden Age of Genealogy.  If at any time you have questions, feel free to post them.  I will do what I can to answer you or at the very least point you in the right direction.
Let’s start digging!