Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mom's Big Tree

I must have told you about Mom's really big tree by now... maybe mentioned it about a skabillion times! She has 70,600 plus individuals on it. That's a lot, right? Mom said that she heard of someone who had 100,000 individuals on their tree but I dunno... That's hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Last time I was back east to see Mom we chatted about her Big Tree and how she likes to share information with interested people. She has, however, been reluctant to just put her Big Tree out there for the world to see. Her objections are twofold and quite reasonable, I thought.

A number of years ago a relative asked Mom for information she had complied regarding Samuel Albert House.  The relative didn't like what she saw, specifically that Samuel Albert was born out of wedlock... so she changed it. Unfortunately this relative got busy sharing her doctored information and now it's out there as gospel. Mom got burnt. And when Mom gets burnt she gets mad.

Another objection Mom had to making her tree public is that she didn't want people bothering her with the "where did you get that" question. You see, Mom has been at this since the 1970s when she kept meticulous notes on chart sheets and index cards. If you are old enough to remember doing genealogy in the good old days before the computer you know what this is about:) So when Mom got her first version of Family Tree Maker way back when, she put in the bare-bones information knowing that she possessed all of the back up data in her big blue binders.

On this most recent trip I spent some goodly amount of time browsing Mom's blue binders containing the Williams and Whetstone families information. There was one letter in particular in which every paragraph invariably contained the words, "where did you get that?"

Today of course, Mom is busy using sources and notes. We love Notes on FTM because Mom can use it as a note to me about random details she remembers.

Anyhoo, when I saw Mom last week we chatted about the best way to share her Big Tree. And do it in a way that no one but us can change it. I emailed Randy Seaver (expert and author of the blog Genea-Musings at http://www.geneamusings.com/) when I got home to ask him what our options were for uploading Mom's Big Tree GEDCOM. Randy, as always, was super helpful and pointed me in the right direction, anticipated my next question and offered pointers to keep us on track while selecting the best options. So Thanks, Randy!!!

We chose Ancestry.com and yesterday I uploaded all 62,967 individuals on the version of the tree I have in my possession at the moment. (Mom has more on the latest version of her working tree but I don't have it here and that's another story.) The upload was super easy... after I went and purchased the download of Family Tree Maker 2012. When reading Randy's emails I realized that I had FTM 2010 and it wouldn't have the automatic sync feature that would make my Gen life easy:)

I selected the Share button in the upper right of the screen in FTM 2012. It asked me what tree I wanted to share on Ancestry.com and how I wanted to name it. Did that then clicked the Upload Now button and went to lunch. Checked about 20 minutes later and it wasn't done yet. At about the 45 minute mark I got concerned. Went on Ancestry's web site to see how worried I should be. Maybe I should have uploaded the GEDCOM from the Ancestry.com web site's Family Trees drop down menu? But not to worry, a moment later when I went back to my open FTM program screen it told me the work was now done and asked if I wanted to see the tree online? You bet I did I did!

Seems like the only glitch is that some of the individuals born in the 1700s and 1600s were marked as living. Now that's inconvenient! So I have been busy going through as many branches as I can discover, trying to find all of those tagged as living - even when there is a death date - and change it to deceased. If I miss anyone they won't show on Mom's Big Tree because the Ancestry setting we've chosen hides anyone listed as living for security.

Mom's Big Tree is named "Virgiania Williams Kelly's Big Tree" on Ancestry.com, so if you run into it, say hi:)

Today's photo from the Archive:

Me, 1st birthday:)


  1. Diane,

    Good job.

    Couple of thoughts on issues you brought up.

    If your mother has FTM2012, then the Sync feature will be great for her. Please suggest that she use the Manual Sync option, (Plan Workspace, SyncNow button pull down menu).

    Before she uses the SyncNow feature, suggest that she does a Compact File (Tools Menu), take advantage of the Back Up feature that is offered, and when the Compact file is complete, use the SyncNow button. I do this at the End of the Day.

    There are Security Settings for that Tree. Public or Private. With the Private setting you can also make it so that the Ancestry Indexing does not pick up that tree. I might suggest making the tree Private, but allow the Indexing to find the tree.

    That leads to the next part. Who can update that Online Tree (Ancestry Member Tree). There are options there as well. Also found in the SyncNow button.

    It isn't clear, but I am guessing that you want to be able to download her tree to your computer. Bad news, that can't happen, as there is ONE AMT that can be linked to only ONE computer. Your mothers. So what does that mean for you. She can make you an editor, and you can work on that tree, online at Ancestry. For her to get that tree to you, some other means, for example, she should be a Back Up copy of that file in Dropbox, invite you to Dropbox, and you do a Restore from Back Up from that file in Dropbox, BUT you will now be able to use that file, to update your mother's AMT.

    I have a blog, if that will help, on Family Tree Maker, where I have talked about most of this.


    Before I forget, using the settings about the Indexing, IF someone finds your mother's tree, they can send an email, using Ancestry, which will go go your mothers ancestry email (top, right, of the Ancestry.com website).

    Good luck,


  2. Hi Russ--

    And thanks for this thoughtful commentary!! Randy did step us through most of these issues but it's also nice to have it "said another way" to come to an even deeper understanding:)
    Mom is the researcher so she has her Big Tree on her computer in Frostburg, Maryland.
    I "get the word out"... guess that makes me her PR agent;) A copy of her tree resides on my computer here in San Diego and it's that one that I've uploaded via my Ancestry account. Mom's too busy to do this sort of stuff so I go and fetch for her. That gives her optimal time for hunting down even more people to put on the Big Tree. Plus she doesn't want to be bothered with questions and this way the questions come to me.
    We both have each other's account and password info just in case either of us falls off the edge of the world:) Plus, I need it so that I can pay for her Ancestry World subscription every July as her birthday present.
    Am using Manual Sync and I decided on that myself so it's wonderful to have a second opinion! Sometimes I stumble into the right choice.
    If you have a moment, please share why we would want to make the tree private. Our thinking is that the purpose of the Big Tree is to get the info out to anyone who finds it useful...?
    Again, thanks a bunch for this comment!!

  3. Great job helping your mom with her family tree. I have my tree on Ancestry.com too. And Grr! about the lady who changed your mom's tree! How frustrating!

  4. Hi Jana!
    Yeah, Mom was about to wring her neck!!
    Cheers, d