Pompous Ass Syndrome

Pumpkin Moon!

Pumpkin Moon!

(As always, this got too long! Have better things to do than wade through all of this?! No problem! Here’s the payoff!)

You know what it is. We have *all* been there. We’ve not only been victims of it, we’ve had it ourselves!

Pompous Ass Syndrome (PAS) is not a gift, it’s a curse, not only for the person who has it, but for the people who must have contact with them. First year law students come immediately to mind. One year in law school and they know it all and *love* to educate not only their fellow students, but anyone they know about how expert they’ve magically become. Yes, they must do two more years (three if they’re in a night program), to actually get a degree, but at this point that’s just wasted time. They’re ready to argue their first capital case before the Supreme Court, and they make no secret of it!

It’s an easy trap to fall into, though. When we start something new, exciting and intensive, what a rush! How can we NOT share our new-found knowledge with anyone and everyone?! How can we not suddenly feel like we’ve mastered a whole new world when things start suddenly falling into place, especially when we seem to have a knack for it and realize success almost from the beginning?

Genealogy can be like that and then some! I’ll never forget how I felt the first time a volunteer sent me a tombstone photo. It was of my great-grandparents graves and it was such a thrill! I remember that feeling every time I look at it. That first census record, marriage license — and it never goes away. Well, unless there’s really something wrong with you, but that’s another subject entirely. 🙂

I’ve only been doing this about twelve years and in the beginning I immersed myself in reading anything and everything I could about family history research. Being an unapologetic hoarder of books, I filled my shelves with “Evidence Explained,” “[Insert here] for Dummies,” society journals, historical research manuals, style manuals. My nerd-self was in heaven — all that software! And, of course, certification organizations and “Professional Genealogy.” I had such high hopes for turning my hobby into a way to not only take care of the electric bill, but also to pay for MORE books! I so wanted initials after my name.

Then, reality set in — that’s not happening. And I figured, hey, since I’m not going to be a “professional,” all that stuff doesn’t really apply to me, right? But that didn’t stop me from digging and digging and digging some more. And the more success I had, the bigger my head got. Remember this all started with the PAS stuff, right? Who needs all those research logs, source analysis documentation, “client” reports — though I *do* cite my sources, but that’s a small part of everything that is this hobby, yes?

Several things have happened in the last few months, which I’ve already mentioned in other posts, but apropos the original point of this stream of consciousness, they included a birthday (I’m almost old now!), and the realization that what I have here is such a mess, it will all just go into the trash as, and rightly so, no one I know is going to want to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. I mean, if *I* haven’t been doing it all these years, why should anyone who isn’t even interested in it take that on? Then, we had the letter my Grandma wrote over 100 years ago that I’ve had here since 2009.

So, in an effort to develop a REAL system so that all my work can easily be just boxed up and sent wherever-it-should-end-up (and THAT has changed several times over the years, too!) I have been furiously Googling for systems, forms, check lists, software, anything and everything that might spark a clue. In that process, I’m finding that I already have a system that isn’t really all that bad, and I’m used to it, so why change now? I just have to slow down and USE it consistently!

But — and yes, finally, the point — in that process, some things kept tapping me on the shoulder, trying to get my attention. And then I found this post at StackExchange: “Can 19th century US Census records be reliably used to identify a family of origin?” The first answer to this question contains the gold:

“Questions of this kind are a sign that the researcher needs to consider making the transition from person-based to source-based genealogy.”

Need to what? Huh? Transition? But . . . I know what I’m doing! I cite my sources! Um — what’s “source-based genealogy?!” LOL!

Jan Murphy practically lives in the genealogy section of StackExchange. She’s also very active in Facebook genealogy groups — her name pops up everywhere! (I thought about sending her a “friend” request, but not for long — I am so not worthy!) Unlike the guy who edited my question by adding a space or something to get a one point increase in his rep — SERIOUSLY??!! AND why ME?! I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out what he “fixed!” — Jan’s answers are well-thought out, thoroughly documented, address the point and contain HUGE amounts of relevant, useful information!

Life sends us the answers to the questions we’re asking, even when we don’t realize we’re asking them! There were little things poking my poor, overworked brain, but it didn’t come together as a concept until I read Jan’s response to that question.

I still have PAS, but now it’s because I’ve taken another step in my fledgling stabs at research. 🙂

How Monica Uses Snow Days

Monica Schirmer Eshelman has sent in her abstract of the 1892 deaths mentioned in the St. Joseph Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News. More snow days for Monica, please! 🙂

1892 Death Notices in the St. Joseph, Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News

Potter’s Field (The County Cemetery)

Monica finds the neetest stuff while she’s digging through those old newspapers for the death notices. She sent this on today. If you’re feeling frisky, here’s the original clipping.

Potter’s Field (The County Cemetery)

Continued →

1906 Death Notices in the Gazette and News-Press

Monica Schirmer Eshelman has sent in her abstract of the 1906 deaths mentioned in the St. Joseph Gazette and the St. Joseph News-Press. She has since commenced working on 1905 which should arrive soon, considering her dedication!

1906 Death Notices in the Gazette and News-Press

1893 Death Notices in the St. Joseph, Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News

Monica Schirmer Eshelman has sent in her abstract of the 1893 deaths mentioned in the St. Joseph Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News. I’m amazed at how quickly she’s finishing these, as we all know how difficult these old newspapers can be to read!

1893 Death Notices in the St. Joseph, Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News


In my effort to explore software alternatives, I gave RootsMagic a try. They offer RootsMagic Essentials for free, so why not? I also found review of v.6 and digging around more on that site, I learned that Tamura Jones actually recommends RootsMagic over Legacy. There are a lot of geek reasons for this — I won’t pretend to have understood a lot of the techy talk on that site — but the recommendation is a good place to start.

“RootsMagic Essentials is a free genealogy program that contains many core features from the award-winning RootsMagic family tree software. Downloading RootsMagic Essentials is absolutely free and is the easiest way to start tracing your family tree!”

The key word there is “start.” Don’t try this at home if you have already invested years in your genealogy database.

My first mistake was forgetting the distinction between RootsMagic and RootsMagic Essentials, I’m realizing now.

On the page that compares the two programs, under Compatibility at the bottom of the page, it states “Direct Legacy import (versions 2 and later).” Okay! Let’s go!

When it didn’t work, I set out digging through the forums to find out what I did wrong. I didn’t find a lot of posts about problems, but they were there, some of them quite old. So I’m thinking there’s got to be a fix here somewhere. No. One poster suggested submitting a support ticket, so why not? I really want to give this software a try.

When I entered the subject of my inquiry in the online form, some links to possibly helpful articles came up, one of which was “Converting from Legacy to RootsMagic” — and dated Aug of 2016, it’s pretty recent, too! Great! That’s what I’m looking for!

“To export your data from Legacy:
1. Open your Legacy program
2. Do “File, Export to, GEDCOM file” from the main menu.”

. . . um, that doesn’t look like a “direct Legacy import” to me. But, what the heck, let’s try that. The result, as you can imagine, was the expected mess in that my custom events disappeared. Okay, that’s what happens when exporting a Legacy .fdb file to GEDCOM. So I went ahead and submitted a ticket. While waiting, I’m checking out some of the other issues potential Legacy converts were having, and I managed to find them all in my new import.

I received a response from support within just a few hours — impressive!

“We can direct import Legacy files . . .”

Um, no they can’t.

“. . . though if you had data problems in the Legacy file, those problems would also be in the new RootsMagic file.”

But . . . I don’t have data problems in my Legacy file.

“Try doing a cleanup of the Legacy database first, using the database tools.”

I’m already doing this on a regular schedule — that’s how I know I don’t have data problems in my Legacy file.

“If there are errors in the direct import, try a gedcom.”


Remember I mentioned that I wanted to try new software, but not literally start from scratch? Well, as far as I can tell, I can import my names, dates, and some of my events and facts, but not all of them. With a direct import of a Legacy file, the image paths are broken. With a GEDCOM import, along with other obvious problems, the PDF document links were broken, though the images were fine.

So giving it one more try, I mentioned this in a response to support: “PDF files are not readily accepted by the free version, but can be added as File type media in the full version” and, sure enough, going back to that features list, you can save reports to PDF, attach PDFs to people, sources, etc., with the full RootsMagic program, but not RootsMagic essentials.

RootsMagic must be a great program. It’s frequently mentioned in the groups/forums, etc., I follow. And it’s cheap. A lot of the people who reported problems with Legacy conversion in the RootsMagic forums ended up just buying the program to see if that would work. And, five years ago, I probably would have put out the 30 bucks without worrying about it too much. But the Legacy conversion does not work as stated.

Legacy Family Tree 9

Long post, so bottom line: No, I’m not upgrading. I’m not even going to spend the time to find out what new features Legacy is rolling out.

In my efforts to get more organized, I thought I might start from scratch, software-wise — definitely not from scratch entry-wise. Made that mistake a couple of years ago and I still haven’t restored even a fraction of my photos, documents and sources. This is painfully evident from the lack of documentation appearing on the website. But this was necessary since all my “let’s put this over there” silliness finally caught up with me and it really was easier to start over than to try to correct all those paths or find all those files. I retained the names, facts., etc., in the original family file, though. Whew.

Anyway —

I’ve been using Legacy Family Tree pretty much from the beginning. I tried a few other programs, including PAF and others I don’t even remember, but I liked Legacy best and it was more intuitive for me. Since then, I’ve installed all the upgrades, too, but when it came to v.8, I made a huge mistake.

One of the things that sold me on Legacy in the first place was the way the reports looked. I could trick them out the way I wanted — the ones I used the most, anyway, some of them are still ugly — and was pleased with the results. I actually preferred the functionality of GenBox, but the report features were either limited or I couldn’t figure them out — can’t remember which now. So Legacy it was.

With v.8 of Legacy, I don’t recall now which features were added that I use and appreciate, but I know one of the big sellers was the addition of roles for witnesses and the like. I had managed a work-around for this long ago. Having tried that functionality, I’ve returned to my old work around.

However, in adding this feature, the rendering of the events in my go-to research document, the family group sheet, was changed. I can no longer get it to print the way I want, and after several email exchanges with support (and they are awesome, by the way!) it was determined that the changes in the event listings were made to accommodate the new roles feature. Apparently, there aren’t many people complaining about that, because it’s not been changed.

Legacy has announced v.9, and it’s probably going to be available soon because there’s a new book for it. I already know, however, that I won’t be upgrading on this one.

There are always growing pains when new versions are released. But to break something that was already working isn’t acceptable. There is still an option to render events in the family group sheet as a list, but it doesn’t do what it used to do in v.7.

And to allow long-term issues to remain while continuing to release new versions isn’t great, either. The one that comes immediately to mind is the inability to remove these ugly lines from the captions on images that are printed in reports. There is an option to remove the lines, but, obviously, it doesn’t work. There are other check box options in other areas of the program that still don’t work, too. But since I long ago stopped trying to use them, I couldn’t tell you what they are right now.

And just so you know how unreasonable I am, I consider the HTML generated when creating a website from Legacy to be “broken.” It’s about as outdated as I am — and as ugly and bloated — and if you have more than a few hundred people, it’s not like you can just edit each page. When I belonged to the mailing list, this was a frequent complaint from people who were trying to get their trees online. But it’s probably not such an issue anymore, since “everyone” is uploading to Ancestry and such.

When I mentioned the website generation issues to customer service as one of the things not addressed in the then-new v.8, she told me that it worked, so it wasn’t high on the priority list. I would imagine at this point, with so many other online publication tools available, it’s probably not on the list at all. 🙂

I Wasn’t Wrong — I Miscalculated!

In my PACT Project Update at the end of December, I mentioned I was contemplating a hectic year and needed to get organized in a hurry. Not only am I still not organized, but this year so far has greatly exceeded my expectations busy-wise — and it’s only just started!

Adding to that, I’ve been unable to work on my personal research with any regularity for about five years. I’ve got boxes of stuff to scan and document, as I’m endeavoring to Go Digital. For one thing, my printer went feets up, so printing everything like I used to isn’t an option.

I also got the “bug” again the other day when I had to dig through one of those boxes. I found what I was looking for (and I’m going to write about it soon, as it’s so KEWL!), but I also found a ton of stuff I didn’t know I had! I’ve only been doing this about 12 years, but in the beginning I didn’t have a “real job,” which I do now, so managed to accumulate a daunting amount of paper in a few short years.

I’m going to be taking a break from a lot of other projects for awhile and get these documents in shape. I’ve been looking for things that I already had and I’ve wondered for a long time what would happen to all this stuff after I’m gone. I can pretty much guarantee at this point it will be kindling, because no one here is going to have any idea what to do with it! I want to make sure my work is not only “present”, but accessible as well! At this point, if it’s not usable for me, it’s certainly not going to make sense to anyone else!

Wish me luck. 😀

1894 Death Notices in the St. Joseph, Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News

Monica Schirmer Eshelman has sent in her abstract of the 1894 deaths mentioned in the St. Joseph Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News. She’s able to work faster because there are now only two newspapers, but also because the further you go back, the fewer obituaries and death notices are available. But she still parties on! Thanks, Monica!

1894 Death Notices in the St. Joseph, Missouri Herald, Gazette and Daily News