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Just a brief entry to express how disappointed I am. I had my DNA test done last year at ancestry and didn’t really do anything with it because I didn’t have a current sub. They wouldn’t show how people were related to you unless you paid up.  Well, I finally succumbed and paid for a month with ancestry and thought, right, what can you tell me, expecting to be able to contact lots of new genetically-related relatives to expand the tree. Well, the vast majority of them have no tree at all, and the rest have trees full of surnames which are completely different to everyone in my tree. How on earth would you figure out how you are related? So I paid my money and got precisely nothing out of it. The very first match did have a tree and the correct surname but they’re a beginner and had little information regarding our common surname. So I won’t get anything of interest from them either except for descendants.  Talk about hugely disappointing and, I felt, a waste of money.  As a resource for normal genealogical research I dislike ancestry, preferring findmypast, so that money could’ve gone back to findmypast to fill in gaps I’ve found during the past year. Huh.

Had to vent.

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Just a week ago I signed up for a “free” trial with findmypast.co.uk and in that time, with just two days of research, I have filled in numerous gaps.  Their search engine is vastly superior to ancestry and familysearch.  They only display relevant results which makes a vast difference!  I don’t waste my time clicking on results which do not meet my search criteria.

I had a word file of particular details that I wanted for a range of different ancestors.  Slowly, I have made my way through them and crossed them out as I got a positive result.  I have noted the positive and negative results on my “research log”.

Last week I found the births or baptisms for Thomas Mudd, Elizabeth Potter (also her death), and clarified births, marriages and/or deaths for some of the Rose family.

Today I met with even more success, finding the baptism (and parents) of Mary Chariot and the marriage of those newly found parents, the marriage of John Beale’s parents, the burial of John Cornelius, the burial for Thomas Gruncel, the likely baptism and death of Sarah Kercher (nee Lee), and a baptism for Sarah Barnett.  For years I had been searching for the baptisms of Sarah Exel and Esther Webb, never having found anything remotely possible, but today I found a possible baptism for a Sarah Exall AND I found Esther (aka Hester) Webb!  That was the biggest prize, finding Esther.  Those records were probably sitting there all this time, buried in all the irrelevant results from stupid search engines.  Even when I know exactly what I’m looking for and that it exists, I always drew a blank on both ancestry and familysearch.  Findmypast also has British newspaper records with a good search engine so I have started to find little articles such as John Rose standing for council.

I recently received my DNA results from ancestry.  The ethnicity is not a surprise but ideally I need a subscription to view any matches.  I’m reluctant to give ancestry any money.  I’ve usually found them disappointing (see above comments re search results).  I think I’ll wait until my findmypast sub expires and then think about it.  I’m no hurry.  In the meantime, I have uploaded my results to Gedmatch but don’t really know what to do.  It’s all gibberish to me with its 31.6 cM 4th cousin match.  What is one supposed to do with that information?  Presumably the person you match has a tree with similar surnames?  Who knows?  I need a “DNA for genealogy” for dummies, with them spelling out exactly what to do.  The help I’ve received so far still doesn’t help.  When it comes to numbers, my brain freezes.

In the meantime, I’m happy enough continuing with the more traditional search on findmypast.

It’s all very well saying I’ll detail my searches in a spreadsheet, but often I’m not at my home computer when I’m searching so I don’t have the spreadsheet to hand.  Often I’ll think of something “just to see” and veer off in a different direction, without any methodical follow-up.  It’s a mess.  Then I read past posts on this blog and often can’t remember what I found or how I got there.  It’s really bad.  It all takes time and focus, which is difficult when you have a short period (maybe an afternoon) in which to do it.  No wonder I end up doing the same searches all the time.

I was idling away and thought I’d do another search on Christopher Dart in Redruth.  I haven’t been able to find his birth in Cornwall.  Well, today I happened upon a forum with someone saying they suspected he came from Devon.  Ah!  Interesting.  But why the suspicion?  Is it because there are a lot of Darts in Devon?  Very possible.  With that in mind I did a search for Christopher Dart outside of Cornwall and the nearest I found to 1801 was one baptised 3 January 1799 in Hatherleigh, Devon, son of Roger and Herriot.  Hmm.  Children are often named after grandparents but there are no Rogers or Harriet(?)s in Christopher’s family.  There must be more than one Christoper Dart in the whole of Devon for that time, but it appears to be an uncommon first name, if the results are to be believed.

And this is where I make another complaint about search results.  It’s no wonder I draw complete blanks time after time on ancestry and familysearch.  Familysearch, in particular, is a nightmare.  For example, I might enter the name Joe Bloggs, with a date and place and perhaps even parents, and what happens?  I get a list of results with Joe Bloggs listed as the father at a christening for that period.  WTF?  So, I usually end up leaving the first name blank and trawl through heaps of results.  I once entered the father’s name as the name of the birth or christening I was looking for (when it was his son I was looking for) and only then did I get the correct father, and had to search through heaps of irrelevant results.  That’s another thing.  Why ask for a date range if you’re going to show me results 50 years later than what I wanted?  It pisses me off.

Ancestry is just as bad.  Why show me a load of totally irrelevant results?  If my person died in 1850, why are you showing me results for a person born in 1870?  WTF?  I get so irate.  It’s just wasting my time.

I’ve been thinking about the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.  It might help get me focussed, although I know it goes against the grain to focus on one person at a time – I want all the answers now, for everyone!  Naturally, for such a challenge, I do not want to wait until January – why wait for some arbitrary start time?  There are 52 weeks in a year regardless of when the year starts, so I thought of doing it from 1 July.  It probably would be a challenge as there would be other interests and events to distract me AND I’ve just sent off my DNA sample, so there’s that whole huge learning curve with DNA matches and trees, etc, but  I think I’ll do it anyway.  It could actually be a challenge to find 52 ancestors that I can write anything about, but it doesn’t have to be a lot.  I could also just write about my search for more information or focus on a sibling instead.  I’ve decided I need to know more about siblings and perhaps searching for them will uncover more.  Past searches have proved that right.

Anyway, I’ll start on Friday.