Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Do You Use Family Group Sheets?

Bare Oak Tree - Source: Wikipedia Commons

Do you use family group sheets (FGS) in your genealogy research? 

I live by family group sheets and you will be seeing a lot them here! I have been using them for years. I honestly don't know what I would do without them. I am particularly fond of this one by which you can find here. I use family group sheets in a variety of ways.

Normally, I take these forms to a copy store such as Office Depot and using 11 X 18 sheets I print the family group sheet on one side and the pedigree chart on the other. However, for this project I have decided to try something new. I find myself always writing additional information on the family group sheet so decided to create my own while using Ancestry's form as my basis. You can find my version of a Family Group Sheet here.

What Do I Include On My Family Group Sheet? 

Along with the information that you will find from Ancestry's form, I have included funeral visitation information (name and address of funeral home, and the date), funeral information (name of church & address, and the date), burial information (name and address of cemetery, plot information), list of siblings for the parents, military service (enlistment/discharge dates, name of war/conflict, medals/honors) and because my maternal family has been Roman Catholic for generations I have included in addition to Baptismal and marriage information, First Holy Communion (name and address of the church and date) and Confirmation (name and address of church, date and sponsor). I have also included divorces (city and state, name of spouse and date). 

Obviously not all of this information is applicable and what information doesn't apply can easily be omitted and/or deleted as necessary to the family in question. I have also included a small space for notes on the family.

How Do I Use Family Group Sheets?

I use family group sheets at cemeteries all the time. Many of the families I have researched are buried in the same cemetery, sometimes they are together but more often than not they are in different sections. This is why I include funeral and burial plot information on my FGS! I have also found that it is easy to share a family group sheet with others and when I do this I also add my source information.

Many libraries and archives now have restrictions as to what can or cannot be taken into genealogy research rooms. Using a family group sheet allows me to "carry" that family and there information where ever I go and I don't have to worry about jumping on a public computer to check my Ancestry tree for the most basic of information because it is right there on my FGS. 

Let me know how you use family group sheets by leaving a comment here on my blog or at my Dawing Genealogy Facebook Page.

"Downloadable Family Group Sheets," pdf document, Ancestry ( : 1 March 2017).


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Plan for My Seedlings

  Baby Coconut trees, Vietnam 2008, Photo Credit: McKay Savage

I have been giving my new blog a lot of thought about how I want to proceed with these new seedlings from my main working tree that I use at Ancestry. The whole purpose of this journey is to make smaller trees for each main family that are more manageable and describe how I am going about that transition. I also want to avoid bright shiny objects (BSO's) and the infamous rabbit holes we all tend to follow from time to time. So I have come up with a few ground rules for myself.

While my main working tree is probably 75% sourced I can almost guarantee that many of the hand entered ones are probably (1) inconsistent and (2) not up to the standards of Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained. Now as I enter each person into the new tree they will be properly documented using Evidence Explained. This will ensure that my sources will be consistent. This will also allow for other researchers to quickly find the information from my source list and reference notes. 

Many of the records and documents in my main working tree are from Ancestry. While that is a good thing I want to find alternatives to using Ancestry for every source. In addition to using Ancestry, I will also be looking to use more records from FamilySearch, Genealogy Bank, Fold3, local, state and national archives, libraries and historical societies. I also have a long list of cemeteries I want to visit, research and photograph to supplement my work. 

Many of the photographs in my working tree are from my own personal collection which I have built over the years with the help of my Mom and Dad and my aunts, Barbara, Bonnie and Sally who have all graciously shared their photos with me, of their lives and the lives of my ancestors. As I build my little seedlings I will only be using photographs that come from my personal collection or which can be properly verified by me or another family member. I will also be "watermarking" all photos that I use. I have been doing this for a few years now with photos used in my blogs. If it is from my personal collection I will use something like "Dawn Kogutkiewicz, personal collection, 2017". If it is a photo from a family member's collection I will use " Photo courtesy of Nina W., personal collection, 2017".

Over the weekend I read a blog post by Donna Cox Baker of the The Golden Egg Genealogist titled What's in a Name? Conflicting Practicalities. It was perfect timing for me to read this post as I embark on this journey of building my little seedlings. In the post, Ms. Baker talks about the conflicting naming practices in genealogy and how it can effect the different genealogy software programs. If you have not read it I encourage you to do so. I will be implementing some, if not all of her suggestions.

I have decided that if there is a question about a person or if I have not been able to confirm particular details (i.e. military service, number of marriages, number of children) then I will be making some type of profile picture that will encourage people to contact me to exchange information and ideas. Something that says "Caution, some information may not been confirmed. Let's talk & work together. Email me at".

I have decided on how I will break down my trees, however, the final outcome will be merging my work together to combine individual families together. I am not setting any type of time table for this project at this time due to the fact some of these trees I have researched extensively and double checking my facts and sources will take longer. Here is the schedule I plan to follow:

1. The Williams family (my paternal line including my Aunt Sally)
2. The Rueff family (my maternal line including my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Kenny)
3. The Crenshaw family (my Aunt Barbara's maternal lines)
4. The Elbert family (my Uncle Jim's paternal lines)
5. The Hoback family (my Uncle Bill's paternal lines)
6. The Kitts family (my children's paternal grandfather's line)
7. The Plowden family (my children's paternal grandmother's line)
8. The Bowman family (my daughter in law's maternal line)
9. The Young family (my daughter in law's paternal line)


Savage, McKay, Wikipedia ( : 2017), "File: Vietnam 08-142-baby coconut trees," Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. 


Monday, January 23, 2017

How Did I Get So Many People In My Tree?

                                                              Baby Coconut trees, Vietnam 2008, Photo Credit: McKay Savage

I received a few comments about my main working tree after posting it in a couple of  Genealogy Facebook groups wondering how I ended up with 97,000 plus people so I thought I would explain how I managed to let this happen. When I began researching my children's family tree I started with collateral research, though at the time I considered it my due diligence in recording each family's history. Then I joined Ancestry and began using FamilySearch to help fill in some of the records I was missing. In 2009, I began adding my information into an online tree at Ancestry. Using my research and chasing down the little leaf hints, adding photos, and stories.

When I first started I had list of who I thought should be included in a family unit. Using myself as an example it goes like this:

  • Name: Dawn M. Williams
  • Parents: Bill and Nina Williams
  • Siblings: Patty, Billy, Kathy and Susie
  • 1st Husband: Private
  • Children: Kenny and David
  • 2nd Husband: Private (Only included because of public records)
  • Children: None
  • 3rd Husband: Tommy Kogutkiewicz
  • Children: None

My first husband and I have children together and it was his family I started researching first. I have both his paternal and maternal lines going back to the late 1600's. I also included his subsequent marriages and children going back 5 generations for all parties whenever possible. As it turns out his current wife and my father are distantly related!

I have included my husband Tommy's family lines because he is the love of my life and also because his paternal grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 1900's and I am looking forward to tracing his lineage. I have included all of Tommy's siblings and their spouses, their children and grandchildren. I have also included the spouses maternal or paternal lines so that their children have a complete tree too.

I have 4 siblings so I have included their spouses and children. I have also completed their spouses lines so that my nieces and nephews have completed trees to at least 5 generations where I can. When my son, David, announced his engagement I immediately began working on my daughter in law, Cassie's tree and filled it out as far as possible so that my future grandchildren would already have a tree waiting for them.

As you can see my collateral research allowed me to add lines that were not always necessary but showed a more complete picture depending on which family you are looking at. There are some families were siblings from one family married siblings from a different family. Then there are also cousin marriages that make looking at a pedigree chart interesting. Then there are those lovely family members that had lives that fall into the following categories: tragic, interesting, inspiring or legendary.

Finally, there are the Bright Shiny Objects (BSO's) and the rabbit holes I followed to see if I could prove a relationship to a celebrity such as a President, musician or historical figure or try to see if I (or my children) could join a lineage society such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Mayflower Society.

My goal for this project is to prune down the number of "unnecessary" lines I have accumulated in the last 36 years. I mean do I really need that 5th cousin's spouse's line past their parents? Do I even need their parents if I choose to put the parental information in the "notes and/or comments section" of genealogy program? 


Savage, McKay, Wikipedia ( : 2017), "File: Vietnam 08-142-baby coconut trees," Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Welcome to Seedlings from Dawning Genealogy

Bare Oak Tree - Source: Wikipedia Commons

I was recently in one of the many genealogy related Facebook groups where a question was asked, "who do you include in your research?". I replied with "I include everyone"! I then went on to explain that my main tree is currently near 98,000 people strong but that I was going to begin dismantling this tree into much smaller and more manageable trees. Then a member of this group suggested that I start a new blog about explaining my process step by step. For the record here at the stats for my primary tree: 97,170 people, 15,204 photos, 4,350 stories and 104,142 records. Starting another blog was not on my agenda for 2017. However, I think it could be beneficial especially to someone who is new to genealogy.  So I am here to tell you that this is how my new blog, Seedlings from Dawning Genealogy came to be reality.

My goal is to make my tree smaller and more manageable however, I would like to share with my readers how I am doing this and the steps in my process. One of main objectives is to build these new trees in my genealogy software program first then upload that tree into Ancestry. I have decided to use free basics version of Ancestral Quest 15 for this project. For now I plan to post once or maybe twice a month on the process and the progress I have made


Wikipedia ( : 2017), "File: Bare Oak Tree".

© 2017, copyright Dawn M. Kogutkiewicz, writer and genealogical researcher of Seedlings from Dawning Genealogy. All rights reserved.