Monthly Archives: October 2011

Connecting with the neighbours

Researching the family tree comes up with plenty of “is this why” and “what if” moments. Here’s one I did recently.

The Neve family is one of the lines coming under closer examination after making contact with the Cullum cousins. With a few more dates and details to work from, it was possible to work backwards from 2 x great uncle William Cullum’s wife Sarah Ann Margaret Neve, find her parents Robert and Elizabeth in the census records in Norwich, and their likely marriage entry. Only likely, as Robert’s surname appears just as ‘N’! But then working forwards again, looking at their offspring came up with something that must be more than coincidence.

Eldest daughter Emily Elizabeth Neve, about 5 years older than Sarah, at 1891 is living at 5 Guernsey Road (with husband William Payne), next door to a very familiar address. Number 7 was home for the Neal family for quite some time, but not this early. And at number 3 in 1891 is George Neve, brother to Emily and Sarah.

Guernsey Road, perhaps early 1920s

So what about later censuses? 1901, oh, what a Payne, they’ve moved to Ipswich. And George is elsewhere in Norwich. But there’s 1911, might there be Neves in Guernsey Road then, when gran had appeared at number 7? Well, yes, as it happens, guys and gals. Emily and William Payne were back at number 5.

So this becomes an “is this why?” – grandfather Sydney Howes is a half nephew to William Cullum, and it is quite conceivable that the Howes and Cullum/Payne families met up on occasion. (The Howes household was only a  few streets away in Churchill Road.) Is this how Sydney met his future wife Emily Elizabeth Neal, over the garden fence?

While writing this, I have spotted that Robert and Elizabeth Neve were in the same street as James John Cutlock, an in-law of the Cullums. Maybe this helped the Cullum/Neve tie up! See the family distribution map for Norwich on Google.

At this distance, such speculation is just that, but interesting and fun nevertheless. And turning up such close connections is definitely part of the  reason I “go wide” in researching the family tree, taking in not just the parents of an in-law but their descendants and ancestors too.

Record search for Welsh 1911 census now on Ancestry

Finally, movement on getting full Ancestry search facilities on the 1911 census. From today the records for Wales, Isle of Man and Channel Islands can be searched in the usual way, not via a convoluted poke through the summary books, which only show head of household in abbreviated form.

Waiting so long, the hope was that the transcription quality would be better than with Find My Past. I’ve only located one record so far, and was slowed down in finding this by David Aubrey Morgan’s middle name being transcribed as Autrey, but it’s not an unreasonable interpretation of the handwriting. And niece Eveline Maud becoming Eveline Hand similarly. What is more surprising is the address, which appears to say Maddon Street, has been correctly interpreted as Maddox Street. As the poor quality of address transcription on Find My Past undermines their much vaunted address search feature, this looks promising.

As usual, Family Tree Maker doesn’t properly recognise this new record set yet. It seems to take a few days for systems to catch up.

Grappling with the new TreeSync

The new 2012 UK version of Family Tree Maker (FTM) arrived on Saturday. The Platinum edition comes with 6 months access to Premium membership – parish records, occupations and all other UK records as well as the standard Births, Marriages, Deaths and Census (link to order FTM from Amazon). Here’s a piece on my experience and thoughts so far.

Adding the Ancestry subscription

The basic installation was as straightforward to do as it usually is, although it automatically added a program to the existing .net 64-bit software on my Windows 7 computer. Then the fun starts, activating the included sub.

This is the fourth time I’ve bought FTM (full or upgrade) with an Ancestry sub but the first time I’ve resorted to the phone helpline. Not that it has been that simple before. The thing to remember is to make sure you’ve checked firewall settings first, to allow full internet access to the new Family Tree Maker (ftm.exe) program. See their Customer Help FAQs. Online activation still failed after I’d checked this, but in hindsight I should probably have waited half an hour before trying again – the time Ancestry takes to reset a failed/spurious log-in. Even so, in my case it might not have worked – after the first couple of stages I kept on getting a welcome screen to FTM 2010 US edition encouraging me to activate a Discovery sub. Failure. The resulting helpline phone call was relatively painless, apart from having to give credit card details which were already recorded on the account. The help person activated the sub there and then. Time to add a diary reminder for 2 weeks before the six months sub expires, to cancel the auto-renewal (do it too early and you are likely to get auto-nags from Ancestry).

Setting up TreeSync

After checking that everything was working, and making sure the log-in on FTM was effective (always seems to take a number of goes before it remembers the details), time to look at synchronising my main tree. The system can’t cope with tying together existing trees at both ends, so this would be uploading the FTM one (my reference database) to create a new Ancestry tree. Logical enough. Downside: this way round I’ll have to invite any tree guests again, and the online hints feature starts from scratch too. Upside: all my FTM notes are preserved (but not made viewable by others). See this FTM Help screen for a clear list of what does and doesn’t get sync’d.

With a bit over three thousand individuals and more than 500 photos (the majority of these images of records that Ancestry doesn’t download to FTM), the overall sync took 4 hours from start to finish, although the basic data was done (and available) in a few minutes.

I had thought a fresh sync in the other direction would be quicker, but downloading what had previously been the main Ancestry tree to FTM took a proportionate amount of time (with fewer individuals and images). There was a very noticeable impact on the speed of web browsing, emails etc while the ‘background’ image sync was going on (my broadband currently connects at about 2.5 meg).

A Sync-ing feeling

The initial TreeSync process seemed fine, and I checked through some outstanding research items using the new sub. As I prefer having the control, I selected ‘manual’ rather ‘automatic’ sync (the latter jumps in at start-up and close-down of FTM apparently). It worked well both ways, although there was one failure which seemed to be fixed by exiting FTM and coming back in again.

Then I started looking at how to merge data into the FTM tree, as it was missing a few records which had only been added (by me) to the old Ancestry tree. Shortly afterwards, the TreeSync disappeared – neither end showed the TreeSync buttons.  No options to reconnect, no error message. I decided to start the TreeSync again from scratch – after all it was the technology doing all the work, I just had to set it going. (Not a stretch to think that the aborted merge process could have confused things.)

Take two worked again fine, for a while. This time the TreeSync failed after a tidy up of back-up/duplicate copies of the main tree. I am beginning to think that the system is far from robust and any minor change to the FTM file outside the scope of TreeSync can be a problem. I tried a re-store from a back-up but no, TreeSync was still missing from this tree. So a third go at TreeSync from scratch today – fingers crossed.

LATE EDIT: My (untested) tip for success – don’t create ad-hoc back-ups or experiment with a sync’d tree, keep things simple and it might just work reliably. As long as the Ancestry servers aren’t backed-up. This from Ancestry techies via the Facebook page yesterday (Monday 17th): “Currently the FTM 2012 sync servers are experiencing a very high volume of traffic. This is causing the sync queue to become backed up, making it appear that the dialog in the program for syncing is hanging. In reality, the tree will eventually sync when the member’s tree is up next in the queue, however, this may take some time.
Customers can either let their sync wait for its turn or try again at a later time where there’s less traffic. Please also reassure them that we’re taking measures to prevent this from occurring in the future by adjusting our servers according to the load we’ve been seeing”.

TreeSync bonus

One bonus of sync’d trees is that you get a ‘Shared’ box on the home FTM screen showing who has been invited to the tree, whether they are guest/contributor/editor or can see data for living individuals, and the last time they visited. The last bit is entirely new and unavailable on the Ancestry website’s Sharing screen, and answers a particular question for me.

Next to the Shared box is the time of the last sync, whether and when the online (Ancestry) or local (FTM) trees have changed since, and a link to the online tree.

Other than TreeSync, there is not a lot of note with the new version. A few useful report enhancements. Plus the ‘blended families’ view, allowing you to see all the offspring of a couple, including from previous relationships, in one go on the Family screen is a helpful addition for the Cutlock family, and others!

Also see

Family Tree Maker notes.

One family history TV show ends, another starts

The latest series of Who Do You Think You Are finished last night with Tracey Emin discovering her gipsy roots. Available on iPlayer until 10pm 19th October.

So the Yesterday channel has timed a new family history programme well, starting next week. With the title ‘Find My Past’, this is closely connected to the genealogy website of that name, which says: “Each week, we take three members of the public on a journey to discover how they are related to someone from a significant historical event, by searching the records on” More about the TV programme. Ten part series on 9pm, Thursdays starting 20th October. I doubt it will have the production values of the BBC series, but looks plausible.

I have enjoyed nearly all of WDYTYA this time round, although Sebastian Coe was unexciting and Alan Carr annoying. The production team managed to slip in some history research shots, missing from some previous series, although there was still a lot of jumping back in time via the help of experts. I liked last night’s sequence which started with an online search not finding a matching Hodgkins family in the 1881 census. Then, to cope with enumerator or transcription error, the researcher kept all the other known search details (such as year of birth and place) but reduced the surname to *kins – the * representing a wild card. The surname had been recorded by the census taker as Hotchkins.


1. Updated link to FMP info on the television programme.

Cullum photo gallery

A new Cutlock and Co page created today has been hidden behind a password. It is a photo gallery of the Cullum cousins, including a few living individuals, plus some private notes. Find it under People > Cutlock/Cullum.

Clue to the password – something closely connected with uncle William. Do ask if you want access.