Stop ‘Saving’ Records to Your Ancestry Tree Until You Read This

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Stop ‘Saving’ Records to Your Ancestry Tree Until You Read This


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It’s no secret that we love free genealogy sites here at Family History Daily. But, we have to admit, we also like Ancestry.com. Next to FamilySearch.org, you’re not going to find a larger, more diverse genealogy website — and many of us are willing to pay their subscription fees for that reason alone.

But we also like Ancestry for the convenient free family tree they offer. It’s easy to get started with, maintain and share (or keep private). Plus, they’ve made it extremely convenient to add records from Ancestry’s databases. A couple of clicks and you can easily attach any number of sources, or names, to your tree (although we could tell you why that’s generally a bad idea).

But it’s this very convenience that poses a serious problem for many family historians.

Most people who keep their trees on Ancestry.com probably regularly attach records to individuals using the ‘Save This Record’ function as seen in the screen capture below. Please note that the following images show the classic Ancestry view. The newly updated site looks quite a bit different but the important save buttons are in approximately the same position.

Save_This_Record_Ancestry

This can also be done when viewing a record image, and is done automatically in the ‘hints’ section when reviewing and adding data to your tree.

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At first, this seems like a quick and easy way to attach relevant records to people in your tree – and it is. The problem lies in the fact that when you ‘save’ a record this way, you are not really saving it at all. Instead, Ancestry is simply linking that record to the correct fact.

This causes two vital problems:

1. If you decide you want to download your tree as a gedcom and import the data into another family tree program (other than Family Tree Maker) you will not have any copies of these files.

2. If you stop subscribing to records on Ancestry, or access records during the a trial subscription and then don’t subscribe, you will no longer have access to these records if they were in a paid database — which most are. This is true even if you currently have a paid subscription that doesn’t cover the record you want to view (such as having a US only subscription when trying to view a record from England). You can read Ancestry’s statement about what happens when you cancel a subscription here.

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Send Me a Registration Reminder Instead

If you have been using Ancestry for awhile you may already be aware of this and have taken actions to secure these documents. But it can be surprisingly easy to overlook this fact and be left wondering why you no longer have access to a record you saved to your tree.

We respect that Ancestry has to support their site by limiting access to records, but we wish this fact was clearer to subscribers.

The first thing to know is that you can download records to your own computer for safe keeping.

Here’s how to download the records so you’ll have access to them later. 

1. When viewing the record’s landing page, as seen in the first screen capture above, click on the image to view it.

2. Now look for the green ‘Save’ button and click on that. There are several options, one of them says ‘Save to Your Computer’ – this is what you want.

save_to_your_computer_ancestry

3. After you select this option Ancestry will likely just download the file to your default download location (usually your ‘downloads’ folder or your desktop). You will now need to find the file and rename it something you will recognize later, since the file name is usually a string of numbers. Once you do that you should move it to a folder on your computer for these files specifically.

Of course, you can also print files.

You should save every single record you attach to your tree on Ancestry and any record you want to view later that you have not attached. Adding records to your ‘Shoebox’ for later review is easy but, again, you will have no access to these files later if you end your subscription.

We recommend that you create a section on your computer for your downloaded records, and then create folders for each surname or line for easy reference later. You can also upload these files manually one by one back in to your tree so that you can view them later in context, since manually uploaded media files continue to be accessible after a subscription ends.

Taking these steps is no big deal for a few records, or when doing so one by one as you research, but what if you’ve already linked many records to a current tree?

You have a couple of options in this case, but neither one is ideal:

1. The first is to simply go through and manually download, one by one, each record as outlined above. Work on it little by little everyday in order of importance so it does not become overwhelming. Make sure to rename each file for easy organizing and place it in a safe location on your computer where you can find it later. This takes a long time for large trees but is worth it if you want permanent access to these files.

2. If you already use Family Tree Maker, or plan to, then you can download all of your media files quickly by syncing the program to your online tree. Unfortunately, it is another expense if you don’t already have a copy, but if you cancel your subscription to Ancestry all of the media files you downloaded to Family Tree Maker will still be available. This makes the purchase price of this software reasonable if you have many records to download, plan to hold a subscription to Ancestry only for a short time, or want to try their free trial and download many records to use later.

Feb 2016 UPDATE: In late 2015, Ancestry announced that it would discontinue Family Tree Maker and no longer offer updates or support for it after 2016. However, on Feb 2nd Ancestry has stated that Software MacKiev, the company that has developed FTM Mac for Ancestry for 6 years, will continue to offer the program as well as updates and new versions. This is great news for FTM users. They also announced that Rootsmagic, another respected genealogy program, will be working to connect their program with Ancestry by the end of 2016. This may offer a new way to easily back up and save your records. You can read all about it here.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has heard of a better way to download all attached records to your computer. So far, we have found no good solution beyond the two options above.

Backup Your Ancestry Tree Data Too

And while we’re talking about backing up, you should download your Ancestry tree gedcom regularly as well, even though you will still have access to your tree data if you end a subscription. The gedcom does not contain actual images of records you have attached, so it can’t be used to save those, but it is always good to have a backup of your other data. To download this, go to your tree, click the ‘tree pages’ dropdown, select ‘tree settings’ and the look for the green ‘export’ button on the right sidebar of the setting page. Find our tutorial here.

Backup All of Your Data Somewhere Safe

We also highly recommend that you backup all of your genealogy data to a second computer, thumb drive, respected online storage site Amazon Cloud, or some other safe location — you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours researching only to lose all of your files. It happens more often than you think.

Image: Chinese ambassador gives latest war news to newspapermen. Washington, D.C., Sept. 25, 1937. Library of Congress

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Related:  Millions of Free Records on FamilySearch Can Not Be Found via Search: Here's How to Access Them
104 Comments
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  • JJ
    January 2, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I decided to purchase FTM several years ago, about a year before ancestry announced they were not going to support it anymore. I did so, for the very reasons you outlined. I wanted to make sure I had access to the images of documents that I had collected over the years. FTM was not an expensive investment, as I recall… perhaps $50 or so. It is well worth the expenditure. It is important to keep up syncing.. and occasionally there is a break and you have to down load it again. I agree with those who say that after spending hundreds… in my case probably thousands over the years the records should be mine… but by using FTM you can make sure you have the documents. I have many documents in paper, but I really like the idea of data residing in an easy to access form. Also, I use carbonite to backup my computer so I have it stored in several places.

  • L. Templar
    December 27, 2016 at 5:45 am

    Wonderful article – I just wish I’d know all this a long time ago.
    Several years ago now I ‘did’ my family tree on ancestry.co.uk. Not being well off, I bough pay-as-you-go subscriptions at around £6 a time which gave you about two week’s access to the site. I paid to view each record and then saved them to my Shoebox, which, in my naievety, I thought I could then access in the future whenever I liked. After all, I’d paid for the privilege, right? Well, not, actually. Today, I revisited Ancestry and headed for my shoebox only to find that although I had dozens of records still listed there, I was not able to access any of them unless I took out another subscsription. Ouch! All that work for nothing.
    I’d not wanted all the bother of downloading and printing off all those census forms and thought that just saving them to my shoebox would mean I could come back and dip into them whenever I wanted. My own fault for not reading the fine print of course, but, as you sat, Ancestry could have made this clearer.

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  • John Persson
    December 11, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Thanks

  • harrydickson
    December 10, 2016 at 2:36 am

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  • Heidi Crupe
    December 9, 2016 at 12:37 am

    In regards to saving images and wondering if they were saved before, you could use the program “Dropbox” which has the ability to recognize if you have already downloaded the same image. The pictures can be put into separate fol;ders and pictures can even be captures from facebook and dropped into ‘Dropbox”

  • C. H.
    December 8, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Good article. I like Ancestry for many reasons, but have learned that submitting my branch of the tree to another should be at all times then synced to FTM if you want your copy. If the owner dies or decides to quit and you lose permissions you can no longer sync as you are NOT tbe owner and dont have a pw (account frozen). Thus you lose access to dl other than piecemeal. Your part goes to Ancestry.

  • Mrs P.O.Miles
    December 8, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I’ve got family trees on most sites, but I want to find an offline program that I can buy. The aim is to give a copy of the tree, on disc, to my grandchildren. Like a book. I can’t find this anywhere. I know they used to be around. I know I can give the site and password to them at the moment , and they can have their own copy on line.

  • James P
    December 6, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Good article. I do like ancestry.com but I tell people to be careful with their recurring billing practices, and to take a screen grab or download any content you get from them while subscribed, otherwise you may come back and find it locked off.

    The other problem with ancestry.com is that it relies on crowd intelligence to make links, not hard facts. I experienced two families claiming their “Joe Bloggs” was attached to the same position my tree, but the DOB and spouse for each family’s Joe was incompatible with the other. It became a bit of a stoush.

  • Jean
    November 16, 2016 at 11:24 am

    One other resource that you might consider is adding your tree, documents and media to MyCanvas and saving it. It’s free, you can choose what type of tree you would like and you can simply upload everything from your Ancestry site to the tree you’re building in MyCanvas. After you have done all of that you can save it to their site, to a thumb drive or desktop and print it out later if you like. And, of course, you could have MyCanvas print out your tree into a poster, book or calendar. So many great options to choose from, too.

  • Jessica
    November 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    FamilySearch is free and always will be. I’ve never found anything on Ancestry that I hadn’t first found in FamilySearch. I’m happy enough to do my research and save my tree there!

    • Robin
      January 8, 2017 at 7:46 am

      I like FamilySearch for their sources. However, I wouldn’t store my main tree there for one main reason — people can change YOUR tree! I went in one time to find one of my main ancestor’s name changed (he had a special long name) and I didn’t do it. So after a phone call to FS I found out that other people CAN change your information when they submit theirs and link it somehow. Now for others to change my findings after all I went through over the years to find it (before internet) kind of freaked me out. So I bought a personal computer genealogy tree program and am using that.

    • JHM
      January 17, 2017 at 9:48 pm

      I have found things on Family Search and not on Ancestry. Then they disappear from Family Search and behold, they are now on Ancestry and much harder to get to.

  • Peter Merchant
    September 21, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I have always downloaded the documents from ancestry, and then renamed them in the form 1876census_Williamjones family , and filed them in the Jones-William folder. But I do wonder if the name that they have when downloaded has any relevance that I might find useful in the future?

    • Bruce Gomes
      October 15, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Generally not, particularly if you’ve saved it correctly – such as using the name you’re using.
      I used to just save the “source” image, but now I also save the Ancestry description too (which they call the “record”) as a .pdf file, to ensure I have a description of that record saved. That may also contain the information on how it was mis-indexed – useful to a subsequent researcher on Ancestry. Of course I also ensure I save ALL the images for multi-page documents – and for certain types I’ll also save a “header” page to further document the source – the front page of a directory, for example, or the front page of a newspaper. Ancestry data from the National Archives generally contains the original Microfilm name – T0627 for US1940 Census, for example, which I remember fondly looking back to using microfilm for that census, but not particularly useful – and the rest of the name doesn’t appear to be useful. However, I do suffix my image names with the name of the image from ancestry (or from anywhere else) if it appears useful – such as the name of a newspaper.

  • Rick Reinckens
    July 20, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    There’s a related issue. I have ONE tree with over 500 images, another over 200, and a third just under 100 — and I have about 500 more that need to be uploaded. (MANY of the 700 were downloaded from Ancestry and then uploaded as the article describes.)

    After awhile you face the issue, “Okay, did I upload THIS image or not?” The only way to know is to page through Ancestry’s gallery TWENTY-FOUR images at a time.

    I wound up going into the 500-image gallery ON ANCESTRY and doing a screen capture of each image with the image caption, saving those to a folder as numbers 001.jpg, 002.jpg, etc. I then creating an Excel spreadsheet with the image description text and the image number. I then added extra columns for the TYPE of document and “SUBGROUP” (i.e., the particular family or in a few cases the particular person).

    RELATED TO THAT, I have an “UPLOADED” column for the images NOT downloaded that way (e.g., I keep ALL “Census” images in one folder). So when I run across an image on my PC, I check the spreadsheet to see whether it has already been uploaded and if so I put an x in the uploaded column and rename the image to show it has been uploaded. If it hasn’t been uploaded, I add UPL to the image file name so I know it needs to be uploaded. (I upload in groups, not randomly, i.e., a bunch of censuses, a bunch of obituaries, etc.)

    Other than the “download – screen capture” plus spreadsheet approach, I don’t know a practical way to organize a LARGE number of images. I’m not interested in printing out copies of every City Directory page and having to maintain boxes of physical files. I have both FTM 2014 and RootsMagic 7 but neither of them has a convenient way to deal with hundreds or thousands of images.

    • Robin
      January 8, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Hey, great idea! I am in the same boat trying to figure out how in the world to organize it all and figure out what I have and haven’t copied from there; it’s a total mess. Spreadsheet is just what I need. So what I have been doing is putting everything into a category folder: birth, marriage, death, census, military, immigration, land. That covers most everything. But otherwise I have used a naming format inside each folder. Like in the death folder I start all FindAGrave pics with FAG, death certs with just Death and then their name and county/state. That way I had type, last name as my main sorting. But I had nothing to show the source of the pic as source names are too long to put in the pic name, so spreadsheet is just the thing.

  • bonni marion
    June 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    I really dislike the “new” Ancestry! It’s hard to navigate and if you want to add a story, you can’t! Copying pictures is also hard, I have to change my settings every time! The added pictures of what was going on at that time are non-essential to most and clutter the page. Changing sex, names, dates is harder, also. Ancestry should have left both options available instead of ” you will change to the new format or else!” What programmer’s job are they justifying? This was a bad idea period!! There are so many other sites that are more accommodating and LESS expensive! Now that I have read this article, I am infuriated. We do all the work and then they make a profit off of our research! Then, won’t let us view it if we drop them and resubscribe! I have always kept a copy of what I have downloaded or added, but now I will go back and make sure that I have! Greedy Gusses!

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Regarding, “Then, won’t let us view it if we drop them and resubscribe!” that’s not correct. You just can’t see them while you DON’T have a subscription. Once you resubscribe you can view them.

      I tend to be a packrat, so even when I first joined back in 2005 I downloaded all the images as I found them.

  • Kryzta
    May 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I found out about this the hard way. My sub was running out, so I saved a load of maybes to my shoebox to look at later, only to find I couldn’t. So I spent the next freeby downloading everything from my shoebox. Now I have a folder on my PC called showbox that I use.
    That’s one thing I like about Find my past, once you’ve seen a record, you can view it as much as you want, it even has a little arrow on it so you know which you’ve seen before.
    I put some photos up of my dads Aunty and Uncle, someone added then to their tree, Ancestry then put the photos in my hints, (from the other persons tree) and wanted me to pay to see them.

  • May 18, 2016 at 11:24 am

    We all remember when there was NO internet, don’t we? and most of us remember when there were no computers, so, even if you go to all the trouble of saving your hard earned research using modern technology, who is to say it will always be there? Print a hard copy and keep it safe for future generations. ……… just a suggestion

    • John Clifford
      May 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Mary I am one of many thousands famous name in France & England I have a GAP from 1510 to around 1066 then my DNA goes wild any ideas I am getting on in years technology is difficult if you can help why not use me in future stories Kind Regards JOHN CLIFFORD

  • T. Morsette
    May 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    I agree that Ancestry has to charge people to maintain their site but I pay them $300.00 per year and that should be more than enough! I find them greedy actually. I think MY records are bought and paid for via my $300.00 per year! I believe I own them and here’s my reasoning: The items I have added to Ancestry are kept by Ancestry for them to offer new members or anyone who subscribes so How does it make sense that they then can use my contributions after I’m no longer paying but I can’t take the sources I found with me unless I jump through hoops mentioned herein? They build more and more memberships off their members personal contributions to sell themselves And improve their services but we get nothing in the way of documents after paying them! It’s pretty greedy, self serving and pretty unethical if you ask me – how Christian is that I have to ask myself! Seriously! They’re pretty good little scammers I have to say-we pay them plus enrich their site and when we leave we better have gone through the hassle of making sure we got what we paid for in the first place!
    One more thing – my family records are about MY family not theirs! Who are they to “own” my family’s records and then NOT give me MY family’s personal information after I paid for it?
    Shame on them!

    • Sue Fitzpatrick
      May 18, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      I agree. I have started to use Family Search a lot more these days.

      I paid this year but there are so many other services and other sites

      I am definately evaluating for the future what site i use.

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Let’s face it — anyone who really puts some effort into it could easily find pretty much EVERYTHING that is available on-line within about one year. If Ancestry allowed “permanent free access” to ALL linked databases, what they would wind up with is people buying ONE one-year subscription, then doing freebie searches and when a significant number of new records show up, the person buys a one-month subscription, downloads everything new, and then cancels. So instead of getting $200 (US) or $300 (World) per year, Ancestry would only get about $20-35.

      Ancestry has about 10% membership “turnover” per year, with about 2 million members. Going from around 2 million x $230 a year = $460 million (assumes about 1/3 are World memberships) to maybe 1/4 million x $230 plus 1.75 million x $30 per year = $110 million would be a SERIOUS hit.

      Keep in mind that in many cases Ancestry has to PAY for permission to use a particular collection. And there’s LOTS of PHYSICAL activity such as boxing up books and shipping them somewhere to be scanned, then shipping them back. Awhile back I sent 10 college yearbooks for scanning. The cheapest one-way shipping from Dallas to Utah was $50.

      And with MOST paper records the documents require a lot of handling. Call up a Fed-Ex Office store and tell them you need 100 pages of documents photocopied but they’ll have to manually place each page on a flat-bed scanner, and ask them their price. They’ll tell you that copies involving a lot of “GLASS WORK” are about 25 cents PER PAGE (or more — that was about 10 years ago).

      I *DO* think they should give permanent access to records linked during a paid subscription. But for financial reasons I can’t see that it’s going to happen, so we just need to deal with it, as the article says.

    • Lyn Smith
      August 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

      I agree with you. I also don’t understand why we don’t have access to records we have attached to our tree while we were paying for the services. Those records have already been located and attached, so what is the big deal on being able to view them at any time.
      Also, they’ve nabbed MyHeritage, which was free and now you must pay to do anything with it. I understand that ancestry has also gained control of other genealogy search engines. Yes, greedy is a very good word for ancestry.
      I’ve been looking for alternative search engines to locate records I found on ancestry and now are not allowed to see. Years of work that might as well be lost.

    • Bea G. Zienkosky
      August 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      I have tried to deal with Ancestry and always find they want more and more money for everything. Also, I have gone on genealogy sites thinking they are free and they turn out to be owned by Ancestry. I have given up on dealing with them to get any kind of fair priced help with my genealogy. By the way, you ask how Christian is that, I believe they think Jesus is an angel not the Son of God. So technically, they are not Christian.
      If you belong to a library in your city, you can get a lot of free help with genealogy like Heritage Quest. You just need a library card and they will show you how to download it. That site can lead you to other more
      reasonable Family Tree sites. Bea

    • Leslie
      December 7, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      So many grumblers. My goodness. So who paid for the programmers to develop their site so that you can post your tree; so that you could take advantage of the hints? Who paid the owners of the records to make them available? Those records aren’t cheap; just try ordering one from the repository. Who paid the indexers to index them? They have to have an extremely secure site to protect your personal data. Yes, you have to and you should choose which shaky leaf belongs to your family. Yes, your family tree that you can access for free if you are a paid subscriber or not, is used to help other researchers. Aren’t you glad! I have gleaned lots of clues from the trees of others and they have from mine. Collaboration is a great thing and is done on lots of sites. Familysearch’s family tree; deadfred, findagrave and others are wonderful places to collaborate, too. To do proper research you have to move beyond ancestry and even family search and gasp even the internet. You might have to go somewhere and go through some old records in a courthouse or visit an old relative. How hard is it to save a document to your computer? If Ancestry was greedy, you wouldn’t be able to do that. Renewing your membership should be for new research, because the results of your old research should be on your computer safely in a folder that is linked to your genealogy software. Familysearch has many of the records that Ancestry has and they are free to you, but they are not really free. Familysearch pays millions of dollars a year for their website and their programmers and their access to images but they are a non-profit organization. And they gift this to you. Ancestry. com is not a non-profit. Frankly if you ever had to pay for the films like we used to, you would think that Ancestry.com is a bargain at twice or three times the price. Prior to ancestry. com and familysearch and countless other websites.I had maybe a couple of thousand people in my old PAF program. I got them from shoe leather, ordering films and making copies, of visiting repositories and ordering vital records I’d spent a lot of money and even more time getting those few records. After 17 years of working on the internet I now have close to 25,000 well documented individuals. The majority of them came from Ancestry. They have saved me countless hours and hundreds of dollars. People,, this is a for profit organization and I doubt any of us could replicate on-our-own or with all the other free sites, what you can get from Ancestry.

      With my passionate defense of them (and I have no affiliation with them) I don’t think Ancestry.com is a bargain for people who have Asian, African or South American ancestry. They also need to work on their Mediterranean records. But they are working on it as is Familysearch. But for those of us who have American, Canadian, English ancestry it is excellent and is getting better for Australian and Scandinavian records.

      Yes, it is not perfect. I don’t like the way they renew; but that is an easy fix. Just check the box to not automatically renew and they will send you an email to remind you, which you can ignore or renew. Or use a once-use credit card that will expire soon.

      • DeeDee
        December 10, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        EXACTLY! Someone who thinks about what Ancestry is really having to do to get these records to us! It is still a better deal than anything else. I too remember what it was like before computers to try to find all these records…..paying 3-400 a year for Ancestry is bargain compared to travel and paying for records at county courthouses, and you can do it much faster and in your jammies! I get sick of people whining about Ancestry in this regard.

    • JHM
      January 17, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      You have to understand Ancestry’s thinking. I purchased FTM 2014 and had a hard time installing (and never could). While waiting for Ancestry to help me I read the fine print. All records are considered to be the property of Ancestry. If your create a tree on Ancestry, it becomes their property and you lose all rights to the information. If you download directly to FTM, then everything in the FTM files belongs to them and you are not allowed to publish the data anywhere.
      I asked for verification of this and the person helping me with the install said it was all correct and Ancestry takes people to court over who owns the info.
      Another thing I learned was that Ancestry is given out for free to Mormons. The non-Mormons are the ones supporting Ancestry. Rates could be lower if everyone using it had to pay.
      That said, we still use Ancestry for now. But not any program that they are associated with. Our research is our research, not theirs. Plus we use a lot of other sources and actual documents from courthouses we visit. as well as items from Historical Societies

      JHM.

  • April 3, 2016 at 1:31 am

    I am at a brick wall not in the censuses, I am wallowing in the 1500 ds namely Robert Clifford b abt 1510 in or around Ashton Keynes north Wiltshire / south Gloucestershire borders . Where did he come from He had land & property with his son / s any help would be greatly appreciated Kind Regards John Clifford

  • Larry
    February 14, 2016 at 7:21 am

    When you sync your tree from ancestry to family tree maker it saves all your date like pictures it’s does save the links like find a grave but it will save the census records

  • Sharon
    February 10, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    I saved many records to my computer in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The Ancestry program automatically linked each record to the individual. A year or two ago, I discovered that the links were no longer there, and I am left with several thousand files named with long numbers that I will need to open, identify and rename, then link to the individual where they belong. I am bringing this up to point out that this is not the first time that Ancestry has changed its course without any warning to its subscribers. I am seriously thinking about printing and putting my most vital information into a notebook, so that this exercise will not have to be repeated in the future.

    • February 11, 2016 at 6:59 am

      That’s what I’m doing. I have my tree on Ancestry (only for purposes of matching DNA), I have my tree on my Family Tree Maker on my computer, it’s backed up on my C drive, on an external drive and on Carbonite. I hope that’s enough! This includes all of my pictures, letters and documents I have sent away for. I did a lot of research ‘way before the internet came along. So I wrote letters with carbon copies for me and sent away for lots of stuff. That was back in the 1970’s and 1980’s where genealogy wasn’t the popular hobby it is today and you could get birth, marriage and death certificates for about $3. Some information was free, as the organizations weren’t flooded with requests like they are today. Ancestry has just linked the records all this time and I just never thought about it. Now I’m going back and saving everything directly to my computer. Because I merged them, when I upload my tree to ancestry, I’ll have duplicates showing up. One for the link Ancestry made, and the other will be the same record that I’ve saved to my computer, labeled and then saved to Family Tree Maker myself. Why didn’t I realize this years ago!!!

  • February 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    The simplest and easiest way of recording your Family History is to:-

    invest in a laser printer – black only will do –
    install FTM onto your computer
    DO NOT construct your family tree on ancestry.com or ancestry.co.uk.
    Do your research, print every document that you deem relevant on your laser printer – it’s really cheap to run. Log what is on the documentation in an interesting narrative on FTM.
    When you are satisfied with your work, Print the various aspects from FTM and collate with all your stored documents.
    Arrange in a suitable binder ( S & M Genealogy do lovely ones)
    You then have a hard copy of your Family History which will make a talking point in your home – you can add your photos, and it is so much easier to view.
    You will still have your original file which you can email to anyone you wish who also has FTM on their computers.
    If you have a large family tree and want a chart with everyone on it – use Ron O Neill in England – he is brilliant and trades as Genealogy Printers.
    I am a professional genealogist and this is how we have been storing and presenting our family trees for 10 years.

    • February 11, 2016 at 7:04 am

      I did a genealogy for my son-in-law for a Christmas present several years ago. I also did one for a friend. One was over 6,000 people and the other over 10,000. I did what you mentioned. I printed up the genealogy and put the pages in those plastic paper protectors in a 3 -Ring Binder. It has a protector on the front that I slipped in a nice picture…it was a picture of a cemetery at night in the snow…very pretty. Then I could go through and place the copies of the records and pictures of people and places simply by adding another page protector wherever I wanted and slip the document and/or picture into the protector. It was very simple but made for a nice book.

  • February 10, 2016 at 8:31 am

    It’s funny this is just now coming up. I have a huge job ahead of me. When I first started on Ancestry about 10 years ago, I started actually saving everything to my computer. Then I realized that the program was doing it for me, so I stopped the practice. Last week I realized the fact that the records weren’t really “saved” at all. So now I have to go back and find the records I didn’t save and actually save them. That way I have access to the records without having to use Ancestry. Plus, if I want to send it to someone, all of the records will be sent as well, not just the ones I had included on my own. I have over 10,000 people in my tree, so it’s a monumental undertaking. I suggest that everyone start doing this, especially if you are just getting started. That way, if you want access to the records at all times, you won’t be stuck like I am having to spend months going back and saving them all!

  • anne prow
    February 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I am curious about what happens to information if the individual doing the tree dies. Can someone interested in the genealogy of the family get what has been researched so far? If so what is that procedure?

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Unless the tree is PRIVATE, all information on non-living individuals is viewable by anyone (with a few exceptions such as Notes).

      Anyone with the username and password has full access to the tree AS IF the person is the OWNER.

      ONLY the tree OWNER can invite people to view the tree and allow “Can see living persons.”

      Aside from living people, visitors can see what THEIR subscription allows AND what the OWNER’S subscription allows. So if the OWNER has a lapsed paid subscription a visitor with a GUEST subscription won’t be able to see LINKED images. A visitor with a PAID subscription WILL be able to see linked images even though the OWNER can’t. If that visitor has EDITOR privileges, he will be able to search, view, attach, etc., even though the owners can’t.

      Assuming you’re talking about someone who has no contact with the tree owner’s family, the bottom line is that if the tree is public the person can see all non-living persons but all living persons will show as Private and there is no way to get around that.

  • Maureen
    February 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks for this info. I have saved a lot of records from Ancestry without downloading them so will start to do that before ending my subscription

  • Joanne
    February 8, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Very interesting. I think one needs to download the records both to your tree, and make a copy if you want one, also downloading your tree to a gedcom is important. What I find is a lot of incorrect work both on ancestry and on family search and few want suggestions that there are errors on their tree nor do they even have the courtesy to reply. Too many people just copy info off other peoples tree assuming if there are a number the same that they are right. If you cannot find records to support those trees do not take their information it just perpetuates error. Always remember because its on a website, or on someones family tree and everyone researching this family has the same information, or its written in a book or a relative said so, or it is the family story does NOT make it true.

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      Another caveat to that — Smith puts something in HIS tree. Then Jones copies it to HIS tree. Then White copies what JONES copied. The Johnson copies from WHITE.

      Eventually Smith finds out something is wrong and corrects it. Or Jones does (or THINKS he’s found other ACCURATE data). After awhile Smith starts seeing all these “hints from other Ancestry trees”. If Smith has a large tree, the question becomes, “Okay, are ALL these OTHER trees right?”

      Yes, it would be great if every time we added something we put full source information. But let’s face it — it usually doesn’t happen.

  • Claire Brisson Banks
    February 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    While I do use Ancestry, documents and such are saved to my own computer where I use Ancestral Quest to maintain my whole Genealogical database. You can do both, it is wise to do this. I’ve written a blog about this too. Here is the link:
    http://gen-reflections.blogspot.com/2015/06/caution-relying-on-1-family-database.html.

  • Shirley Riley
    February 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    I down load my found records from Ancestry to a Flash Drive. My family tree is on my computer and a back up is on a flash drive. The Family Trees on Ancestry should be used as a help and not as correct. My cousin put the part of my Italian family tree on Ancestry and right away about 4 people took the information and added to their tree. Their relative was Pancrazio Pietrinferni born 1896 who they added to my great grandfather Francesco Pietrinferni who died 1889. I have sent comments to these people telling them there is no way Francesco could be Pancrazio’s father but they still have not taken him off their tree. People only care about getting back another generation and don’t care if it is right or wrong. How can Francesco be Pancrazio’s father when he was dead 8 years before the birth of Pancrazio?

    • Linda Whitmore
      February 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      I know what you mean about errors repeated on Ancestry family trees! At the turn of the 20th century, a published genealogy on the Whitmore family claimed that the Wetmore family in the same town was the same, so she’d just use one surname as she traced descendants. Today, DNA studies show without a doubt that they have no relationship — but I frequently see trees on Ancestry that continue the contention. What a mess!
      I work on Family Tree Maker and use Ancestry solely as a source of clues. Of course I have to upload my tree (synch) for the green leaves. Synching has caused catastrophic garbling — twice! (I use Mac, for which the FTM update had serious problems when it was launched a couple of years ago). So I ALWAYS put my tree on a flashdrive before linking my tree to Ancestry.
      Another reason to save your work on a genealogy program is that you will always have your family information, even if you quit Ancestry.

      • Shirley Riley
        February 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        So true Linda. It really makes me angry. I do not put my tree on Ancestry. Like I said my cousin put the information on Ancestry but I did not give them all the information. I gave my relatives only to the 1800’s I have the Italian side back to 1750 by renting the Civil Registration Films for the town of Canzano, Italy. I am not a Mormon but I volunteer at the Family History Center in Wilmington, Delaware.

        • Maggie
          February 8, 2016 at 1:22 am

          Hi, I wasn’t aware one can rent film, how does that work, I’m curious
          Maggie

          • Shirley Riley
            February 8, 2016 at 4:44 am

            Maggie, go to familysearch,org at the top you will see search put the mouse on that and you will see choices pick catalog. Put the search the town by putting the name in and it will come up with Civil Registration for that town in Italy click on the that and look for the film you would want to see and place and order. The film will be sent for you at the LDS Library that you choose. You may want to go to the nearest library near you to see how many film viewers they have. On the first page of the familysearch.org you can put your relative in and see if they have any information on them. I am not a Mormon but I volunteer at their library. They have gone all over the world and filmed any records they were allowed to film. They are now indexing all the films and putting the information on line for free. If you have problems send me another message and I will help you. Some Italian records are on line if you can read Italian.

        • Linda Whitmore
          February 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

          You live in Wilmington? Perhaps you know my friend and noted genealogist Hal Whitmore. He is the organizer of the Whitmore/Wetmore/Whittemore DNA research study.

          • Shirley Riley
            February 9, 2016 at 5:45 am

            Linda, I do not know Hal. Does he ever come to the Family History Library in Wilmington? It is located in Westover Hills Development. I would like to talk to him about DNA and which test he took. Wilmington Delaware Genealogical Society will have a talk about it. I think from what I saw with a friend’s DNA I will go with 23 and me.

    • February 10, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I had a problem with my grandmother. She had a cousin with the same first name and a person confused them on their tree. Before I caught the problem, several people had copied the info. I sent a message to all of the people I could find with the incorrect information to set them straight. I had to keep after them, but finally I got them all to change their trees. (At least I think I found all of the problems.) I kept telling these people that the longer the incorrect info stayed on Ancestry, the more people will just copy it and the problem will only get worse. some people questioned me, saying that they didn’t believe my information was correct, even though I said I was Emma’s granddaughter and KNEW what was correct and what wasn’t. Upsetting, to say the least!

  • Cynthia Conciatu
    February 5, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    I’ve been using Ancestry.com for 4 or 5 years now. I pay month to month, so I may take a few months off and then pay for a few months to continue. They’ve improved so much over time that I am very pleased with the ease in finding records. I attach downloaded photos of documents to the closest branches, and just add records to the outside branches through ancestry. I’m good with this arrangement.

  • Linda Whitmore
    January 11, 2016 at 8:38 am

    This article was obviously written before Ancestry announced it would be shutting down its connection to Family Tree Maker at the end of the year (and it would no longer sell FTM). Therefore, the article’s suggestion that records can be attached and saved to FTM should have noted that we FTM users have one year to attach records to our existing FTM program.
    I use FTM as my primary tree and Ancestry only to access information. The reason I chose the FTM program was for the capability of “synching” records to my ancestors. I knew that having my tree solely on Ancestry would require a life-time membership in order to continue to access it. It’s a good way for the company to make money. I wonder why, especially with its frequent TV advertising to draw new customers, Ancestry is making the claim that it has decided to trim its budget by halting sales of FTM and discontinuing its synch attribute?
    I haven’t tried the process of downloading records to my computer, renaming and filing them. This sounds like a hassle, but soon it will be the only way to store them.

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      They’ve said they were discontinuing FTM because the vast majority of their members don’t use it.

      Actually, by the end of 2016 things should be BETTER. Previously there was no way to access both Ancestry and Family Search from one program. RootsMagic 7 can import FULL FTM 2014 trees, including images. And it STILL can access Family Search.

      I don’t know whether RM will eventually have “full interoperability”, so you can use one RM tree to access both FS and Ancestry trees. I do tend to doubt it.

  • Sue F.
    December 16, 2015 at 9:54 am

    The “new” layout of Ancestry.com has bold colors and makes “stories” from facts. This is like “gamification” that presents information in an entertaining format. This could help retain customers who have short trees or whose research has slowed. But for active researchers who are more interested in clear facts, the new layout is a hindrance. I have been an Ancestry.com subscriber for years, but am already looking for a more research-friendly service, like the “old” layout. If Ancestry.com does not provide this alternative, I am sure that competition will arise. Build it and we will come!

  • Jim Lynch
    December 5, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    It is my understanding that Ancestry charges other users to view data in the family trees stored with them. What this means is that Ancestry is making a profit from your hard work.

    You can get free family tree software from familysearch.or or a number of other sites, No matter how “convenient” it may be, don’t trust Ancestry to keep your data, every provider has drive failures andthey won’t be responsible if your tree disappears. You should at least keep a copy of your data on your computer, and back it up to another drive – like a thumb drive or CD – occasionally.

  • Keith
    December 1, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I am on and off Ancestry every few months. I learned this a while back. There is an easy fix but I don’t have a lot of info. If you are using family tree maker you can sync it up to your tree and download the entire tree. The problem is, this doesn’t happen automatically. Once it’s downloaded clicking on the People tab on the top, on the bottom there is an up/down arrow icon that allows you to download all of your media. I’m using an older version of the FTM, so it may be a bit different on your updated program. This is definitely easier than trying to download the records individually.

  • cm reed
    November 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

    I have used Ancestry for years. I have thousands of census files, records and photos I have saved to my computer. I use Family Tree Maker for my personal tree and like it very much.
    As with all things, progress makes some of us mad, some of us happy, and some of us frustrated. A few of the changes, Ancestry put in to place, were reversed. That oval picture frame was a stupid idea. Glad they got rid of it. I was also glad that they put my records back to correspond with the date on the time line.
    This is a good article on the differences in saving data.

  • Judy King
    November 25, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    It’s really not a good idea to discourage ‘Save this record’, because it’s a good practice which acknowledges ownership and sources. We should be saving records AND downloading copies if we want them.

    • Larry Bennatt
      November 26, 2015 at 5:39 am

      The article is explaining the difference between a method of saving what amounts to a ‘web link’ that in all likelihood won’t be available/accessible to you once a paid subscription has expired VS the best way of downloading and saving the document image itself. I always view the document, download it, and save it to hard drive under a specified name and then link it to the individual(s) within the FTM file.

      The article is giving sound advice.

  • Tamara
    November 25, 2015 at 4:55 am

    I presume this also applies to Find My Past?

  • Cathy Philo
    November 25, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Hello! I am looking for relatives with the last name PHILO on my ex’s side and HUDDESTON & BEATON on my maternal grndparent’s side. All replies will be answered and I am on facebook also. Thank you for your help and all have a very nice Thanksgiving. Cathy Philo

  • Marianne Trevisani
    November 24, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Great information!. I haven’t updated my FTM software in a long time because I’ve been saving everything to Ancestry. com. I’ve wondered why I would pay for software. Thank you for this article! I will upgrade my software and begin downloading immediately before the December 15th date when the new Ancestry format becomes mandatory. This was I won’t stress when I can’t find anything.

  • Mildmannered1
    November 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    This sentence in the article above reminded my of my irritation:
    “We respect that Ancestry has to support their site by limiting access to records…”

    I do understand that Ancestry has to support its site. What I don’t understand is how our very own US census records have been sold to a private company. NARA, our own taxpayer-funded agency, doesn’t have online access like Ancestry does.

    Why??? We paid for the census, we pay for NARA.

    • Sue
      December 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      The US will give the info to the different companies……Ancestry, Familysearch and many other sites. The government doesnt have the sites to use or people to transcribe the millions of people, which is done for free by people like us

    • Kristina
      February 10, 2016 at 3:47 am

      The records are free through Nara. But they aren’t indexed. The indexing is what is proprietary.

  • Mary B
    November 22, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I hate this new format, cannot find the relationships. Can we go back to the old format. ??????I really can’t figure out why they can’t leave well enough alone. The old format was perfect.

  • Marci Bowman
    November 22, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    If I save my tree to Family Tree Maker and then save as a GEDCOM, will the documentation then be included in that GEDCOM? I really dislike the interface on Family Tree Maker and much prefer Herdes. I would consider springing for the cost of FTM if I could then have the documentation on another genealogy database program.

    • November 23, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Marci,

      If you have a copy of a recent version of the Family Tree software, just sync your tree and the documents will be downloaded with the sync. However, the file names will be numbers so you will have to relabel them. That is the frustrating part. Ancestry.com use to label them with words but now they are all numbers. Sometimes it is just easier to download them manually because many of the documents are hard to read, so it may be hard to label them if you sync them down and can’t see the document in the viewer on ancestry. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of being able to sync the documents down. That is the long and short if it.

      Kim

      • Diane Himes-Davis
        February 8, 2016 at 11:42 am

        I dislike the new Ancestry. It won’t let me add any new info that I obtain from family members. The old Ancestry was simple. We had no other choice, but to accept the new program. I am not computer savvy and with the new Ancestry I find myself lost at times.

      • Rick Reinckens
        July 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        It’s not quite correct that “now they are all numbers”.

        FTM has two options — you can DOWNLOAD the media OR SYNC the trees. If you just DOWNLOAD, it saves them as a huge number. If you SYNC the tree it downloads with a name.

        However, even with names, you will still wind up with names like:
        1930 United States Federal Census.jpg
        1930 United States Federal Census(1).jpg
        1930 United States Federal Census(2).jpg
        1930 United States Federal Census(3).jpg

        You can’t SYNC an existing FTM tree and an existing Ancestry tree. You also can’t have “dual syncs”. In other words, with an UNSYNCED Ancestry tree you can “DOWNLOAD AND SYNC” to a NEW FTM tree. You cannot then “DOWNLOAD AND SYNC” to a SECOND new FTM tree. You would have to UNSYNC the FIRST tree.

        Once trees are unsynced, they cannot be re-synced.

  • Grace
    November 22, 2015 at 7:57 am

    If you quit Ancestry and then rejoin, you will be able to see those records once again. I know, I have done it.

  • Bill Wagner
    November 22, 2015 at 1:59 am

    I really enjoy Ancestry.com but the price of membership has gotten so high that my casual research has stopped. It is interesting that the trees built by millions of genealogy enthusiast are then sold back to them..

  • Margo Lurvey
    November 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I am not using Ancestry software so if I am understanding you correctly, by purchasing the Ancestry Software and turning on the Sync application my data that is on Ancestry will then be available to me on my Ancestry Program and from there all of the documents that are attached to my Ancestry Tree will be preserved and I will be able to then print, save or whatever from there on! Also those documents will be preserved when I export a Gedcom of my data in my Ancestry software.

    Is that correct? I did find out that none of the documents are preserved in a Gedcom of my Ancestry trees that are housed on Ancestry!! Found out the hard way!!

    Great post, thanks
    Margo

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      GEDCOM is a non-Ancestry standard format, just like PDF is a standard format. The GEDCOM standard only handles text. There is no industry-standard genealogy format that includes images, PDF’s, HTML, wordprocessing, spreadsheets, etc.

  • Sue
    November 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Thanks for this, as I am looking to end my subscription. I have saved some, but will be going back rename and save

  • November 21, 2015 at 7:24 am

    Good information and an important reminder.
    Ancestry has made it a bit more difficult to save images in the new version. If you do a regular search the option to download to my computer is still in the same place. If you check a hint, you have to agree to the hint and then go back to the person’s facts page. Then click on view, view record, view image. A lot of extra clicking. Also, I have my browser, Chrome, set to ask me where to save each download. Much easier than having to search for the file, rename it and find it a new home.

  • November 20, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    I use Heritage Collector to organize all of my digital documents. When I’m downloading them from the Internet I can copy and past the citation. I can abstract the names and it has a terrific search engine. You can save your records in collections based on your personal preferences. I keep all of my research docs in here even if I can’t prove a relationship yet. The search engine will search across all collections and pull pictures, or documents up for a quick review when needed. I’m thinking of doing a virtual Expo in January to show people how to use it and make it a great research tool for all those records that don’t quite fit into the family yet.

    Thanks for sharing this article. I truly enjoyed it.

  • Ronny
    November 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Will the (available) links be restored if you restart your subscription after being dormant for several months?

  • Terri Hildreth
    November 20, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Another reason to always download and save a document to your computer is that Ancestry sometimes looses or doesn”t renew the ‘right’ to publish a database. Then if you go back to find something, it may not be accessible any longer. Be sure to copy the citations as well in case you need to find the original source at some point.

  • ANNE
    November 20, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Interesting and helpful

  • Wendy
    November 20, 2015 at 6:08 am

    I think everyone should download every document they find and have access to, but they should also save to their trees because those documents benefit others researching the same names. If they have a paid membership, they can see what you have saved.

  • Margaret Abbott Australia.
    November 20, 2015 at 2:31 am

    Familysearch.org is a free site you are never charged any thing , I have been using it since 1960s.

    • Judy Spencer
      November 20, 2015 at 3:15 am

      Are there directions on how to put my Ancestry tree onto Family Search?
      Or would I have to add each tree record and person manually?
      Thank you.

      • Wendy
        November 20, 2015 at 6:06 am

        If you’ve already saved your tree as a Gedcom file, you would be able to upload that to Family Search using their instructions. I loaded my Gedcom there with no problem, although it took a while because of the size of my file.

      • toni
        November 21, 2015 at 7:40 am

        I have never been able to upload a tree there and have it upload correctly from an ancestry GEDcom. If you do it, be sure to check several people in your tree to be sure they are still married to the correct spouse and/or the correct children are listed for the couple. Then check backwards a couple of generations to see if the family matches. I won’t attempt to put a GEDcom there any more. Also, be aware if you add to the one family tree or whatever it’s called, others can change your information and if they are not the right changes, there goes all your work.

    • Rick Reinckens
      July 20, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Since the Internet wasn’t invented until the early 1980’s and the Worldwide Web in the early 1990’s, I’d be very interested to know how you were using them in the 1960’s!

      One huge problem with FS is that they don’t have any information on anyone living.

      Also, a few years ago they “partnered” with Ancestry. As FS has said, they are not there to be a “freebie” genealogy site, they are doing it for religious reasons. Before the “partnering”, FS often had things like census images. Now, if Ancestry has those images FS search results will show that the record exists and have some TEXT contents, but will include a link to Ancestry to view the image. Of course, to actually see the image you need an Ancestry paid account.

  • November 19, 2015 at 11:22 am

    If you use Family Tree Maker to save Ancestry records to a person in your family tree, you have the option of also saving the record image (if there is one) to your computer. I usually do this and then sync my computer’s version of my family tree to Ancestry.com. That way I have a copy of my tree, including all media files, as well as a backup at Ancestry.com.

  • Patti Liebenow
    November 19, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Thank you, that was perfect timing. My Ancestry.com account is about to renew and I was wondering what to do. I think I will renew for 6 months and work on backing up my information.

    • toni
      November 21, 2015 at 7:45 am

      You will always have access to your tree, paid up or not. The documents that you manually upload will be available to you until ancestry changes their terms of use again. You can add documents you save from familysearch to your ancestry tree. I will not pay ancestry again when I can find documents elsewhere for free and use my ancestry tree as a back up. Now, when ancestry changes to the mandatory NEW ancestry next month, I will abandon ancestry. I will leave my tree there but I will no longer use ancestry. I do have the software and will use that exclusively. I may or may not continue to sync my tree. I have enough information in my tree for anyone who is looking to be able to make a tree of their own using mine.

    • Anita Liebenow Stevens
      November 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Hi Patti, I’m not into genealogy but my neighbor is and she forwarded this site to me. She recognized my maiden name as Liebenow.
      My Dad’s family was pretty big (9 siblings) in Racine Wisconsin. My Dad was George Hans Liebenow, 10/30/1919-12/25/2010
      Where do you live?
      I’ve been in California since I met and married my husband 50 years ago!!

      • Patti
        November 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

        Hi Anita,
        My husband is Dallas C Liebenow from Minnesota. His grandfather was Frank Frederick Liebenow born in 1859 in Dodge County, Wisconsin. Frank married Emma Schwanke in 1897 and had nine children. I didn’t think there was a George but I would bet you and Dallas are cousins.
        We live in Anaheim, California.
        Patti

        • Anita Liebenow Stevens
          November 23, 2015 at 12:59 pm

          My grandfather was born 11/26/1891 in Racine. His parents were Robert and Marie (nee Luedke). They both emigrated from Germany.
          My grandfather had only one brother, William, and one sister who died at a young age. Doesn’t look like a link.
          We lived in So Cal for years and moved to Paso Robles in 1998.
          Thanks for getting back to me.

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