It can be confusing in the world of open internet and constant sharing of everything from how you feed your baby in public to what type of toilet paper you use. People confuse something being seen on the internet or other media with being in the public domain. Somewhere in that matter behind their eyes and under their skulls this translates into ‘open game’, ‘ if you didn’t want people taking it you shouldn’t have put it on a public website’, ‘oh how stupid that some people think they own history,’ the latter after calling someone grade school names and worse.

If you are one of those folks who doesn’t undertand the difference between public domain and public websites it would be wise to take, oh 30 minutes to an hour and educate yourself. If you think that posting something on any website is the same as giving permission as a creative commons, think again. This is true ONLY IF the author/owner has stated so.

If you are one of those people who routinely take peoples photos, remove their watermark or copyright and post them as your own, or worse yet, don’t bother and claim it’s yours anyway, you should rethink your practices. Even worse, taking someone’s written word, copying it, pasting it to generic backgrounds straight off your computer, without that author’s permission if not given under creative commons, past copyright statutes, then presenting as your own then you should educate yourself on copyright laws.

This is always a risk taken when one decides to share research, original stories, photographs and other intellectual property. It does not excuse the taking of one’s property.

Websites sometimes do not have the ability to moderate complaints and often puts the onus on the offended rather than on the culprit(s). Larger websites sometimes do have the ability but sometimes simply don’t care. I have personally found this to be true of larger genealogy sites. So, use at your own risk.

In response to the aforementioned ‘gripes’. Putting one’s property on a ‘public’ website is not the same as open permission to have a field day in taking it and doing whatever you want with it. This attitude is akin to walking into a store and taking whatever is on the shelf because it’s there in public sight and within easy reach. Each case is stealing.

As for ‘owning history’ why no, I don’t feel I own history. Nobody is stopping you from doing your own research. You’re quite welcome to public documents, records dates and facts. You are welcome to traipse through public cemeteries, snapping photos or writing the information down. You can spend hours in the local library pouring over the research materials there. You are free to pay for subscriptions to magazines, online research repositories, documents from NARA and state archive. By all means, happily immerse yourself into reading all the history your heart desires. You are NOT entitled to my copyrighted photos, original stories, in my own words summaries or any of my intellectual property.

When you take these things, you’re taking advantage of someone’s work – decades worth in some cases. It diminishes your credibility in whatever field you’ve chosen. In the case of genealogy, it addtionally can hinder someone from making contact with the original owner of the item(s) who might have more information available and might be willing to share, if asked nicely and handled fairly.

You know who you are; you’re lucky if the worse thing so far is you’ve had items mysteriously yanked off your copied and pasted trees or other accounts and profiles. There’s always that someone out there willing to protect their work by taking you to task or to court.

Try to remember that golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Wouldn’t we all be better off honoring that?

It could happen to you

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Posted by on June 23, 2019 in family history


Someone asked me, what is considered to be crediting a source on the internet such as in forums, message boards, groups, facebook, twitter, etc.

I’m likely -almost certainly- guilty of not properly citing sources when I first began certain aspects of research, such as using ancestry .com for example. I’ve learned better. I still make mistakes.  There are many instances I could not possibly cover. There are other excellent articles and blogs that can give far more detailed information regarding thorough examples of properly quoting sources.
I’m going to answer that question with my idea of what is NOT citing a source.

Example: posting  a photo with “source, ancestry”
More accurate: photo used with/by permission of John Q Public, as found/shared/seen on ancestry. com. Shown in photo , Jane Doe, John Doe, little girl Doe and baby doe.
Same goes for articles, documents etc.

Ancestry. com is not a source. It is a repository for sources such as the 1820 Federal Census of Jefferson County GA.

Example: J.D. Smith was the father of D.J. Smith, who was born in 1830. He married Jane Jones in 1854 they had 10 children, etc etc etc. source: rootsweb.

Rootsweb is an internet message board,  the source is the person who posted that information there.

Example: (fill in the blanks with some quote about somebody that did something in 1829) source: google.
The publication that google shared with the public, is the source. Not google.

Speaking of google, just because something shows up in google images doesn’t necessarily mean the owner of the item/photo knows it’s there or wants it there,  or has given permission for it to be used. Google has bots that scour and scrub the internet for ‘hidden’ sources. Coming across something on the internet does not equal it being public domain for everyone’s use.

Family lists a citation you may use at the bottom of the document or info that you are reviewing. Repositories such as state archives, national archives and the library of congress  also list citations at the bottom of the document-or somewhere on the page easily noticed. (There will also be notice on the page if you cannot use an item without permission).

If  a person is computer and internet savvy enough to download a document or photo and then upload it to another website, then one is certainly computer and internet savvy enough to copy and paste a citation.

In the case of a citation not being available , then try posting a link to the item/page. Facebook as well as other websites, will automatically post a preview of the page you are linking to for the convenience of others.

It’s always best to cite your source, use a citation pre-written for your convenience or post a link to the source instead of adding some slapdash vague mention of  where you came across the item you’ve chosen to share.

Remember that someone who so willingly shares information has likely spent  countless hours working to find it. Treat them kindly, gently and with the same respect as if you were the person behind that source. Because one day, it might just BE you.

Quote unquote


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I am the Walrus

People, please please please, be careful what you  add to your family tree. Please verify verify verify. When comparing or using info from other people’s family trees, (or any information especially from the internet) make sure that there are sources and citations attached to the individual(s) you are researching.  Ancestry. com ancestry trees, millennial files, complied data bases do not constitute or substitute documentation, these only mean that you and countless other people have the same names in your family trees.  We’re talking real source documents such as census records, church minutes, probate records, land records, birth, death, and marriage certificates….you get the idea.

Those who have used ancestry. com know that upon clicking on hints you are presented with the opportunity to look at the actual document available (click review and the ‘view’ selection will left side of the page.)  Non subscribers to ancestry files can try for free access. Many states also have online access to their archives. These are only a couple of many online options available  to all. ( I’m sure most serious genealogy aficionados have heard of Cyndi’s List as well) 😉

If you’re out of time to look in depth at the information, bookmark it. Ancestry. com allows you to save it in your shoebox for later perusal. You may also download it to your hard drive for later examination. (note: ancestry’s terms of use only allows downloads for personal use only, not for sharing).

And here’s my snarky comment of the day: If verifying information is too much trouble for you and you think your time is more important than truthfully representing facts, please – find a different hobby.

Once, while researching on ancestry. com I was looking at what many researchers and historians consider to be the alleged progenitor of American Strouds, Strodes, Strouts, Strowds, Strauds, etc. Warinus De La Strode. Alternate spellings depends on the nationality of the researcher or the tree that was copied and pasted.  Several examples include Warin De La Strode, Guarin Du le Strode, Guarin Du l’ Strode and Warinus De La Strode.

Well, somebody must have decided to play a joke. Or who knows how it got started.

There, in the search results, glaring bright and sassy back at me was the name WALRUS De la Strode. I can’t say how many examples of that spelling had been copied to other trees.

I still shake my head over that one. And laugh.

Don’t let that joke be on you. Verify!!

walrus-908609_960_720 (640x427)
Grampaw, is that you?

(Photo taken during USGS research efforts permitted under US Fish
and Wildlife Service Permit No. MA801652-3)
Location: Point Lay, AK, USA; Date Taken: 9/19/2013.
Photo Credit: Ryan Kingsbery/USGS.

That old brick wall

DNA genealogy: it confounds me at times. Trying to understand the haplo groups, subclades,  which test to get, how many markers  are needed to find a genealogical match, the difference between Ydna, Mtdna and autosomal dna. Some of the more scientific language used in some essays and explanations frazzle my brain at the titles alone.

Confusion aside, I’m attempting to educate myself about it enough to understand how it works with genealogy. And bless their soul, a direct Stroud male descendant had a 37 marker Ydna test done, uploaded and is gracious and kind to share the results with me and other descendants.

Now we are told we have a 37/37 marker match with another descendant of the line of John Stroud b. circa 1726 died 1776 in Mecklenburg County, Va. He married Sarah Morris, who apparently expired before he did, as his will mentions his deceased wife. Most researchers information of this line do not include locations/names and/or dates that seem to align with the names/dates/known locations of Thomas Stroud 1775-1832 Emanuel Co, Georgia, USA.  But it’s hard to argue with the results: 37/37 markers match and  DNA is DNA.

Now all we have to do is figure out how we are connected to this couple.

Easier said than done. Our group of Stroud bloodhounds researchers are hot on the trail and we can’t be stopped! 😀 The hunt continues.


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Adventures in building a family history.

I’ve gotten off the subject of the specific ancestors that I am tracing. For a bit of a change, I want to share some of the pitfalls, stumbling blocks and errors I’ve come up against, and goofs I have done myself,  while researching family history. In the process, I’ll share some tips and give suggestions that have helped me, in the hopes it might spare others a bit of hair pulling and banging the head on the desk frustrations.

Words of warning, genealogy can be addictive. Especially if you like history in general, tend to be detail oriented, and love to solve mysteries.

The first step is to decide what type of tree you want to put together, and where to draw the line.

There’s the kind of family tree that is nicely printed up and framed for display over the fireplace. This is what I consider a “skeleton” tree; it primarily contains names and dates only, going back maybe to your great great great grandparents. You may or may not want the parents of each individual parent, grandparent, great grandparent and so on. You might want a separate family tree for each of your parents.  You might choose a paternal or maternal line only. See how quickly it can become confusing as the names start adding up?

Are you trying to write up the world’s largest tree going proving that each of us is somehow connected to each other or so that others can refer to and admire your tree? By all means, include every possible combination of every possible connection.  Go ahead, add your great grandparents’ children, their children, their spouses, second marriages, step children from their second spouses first marriage, the step children’s biological parents & their parents, their step  children, aunts, uncles and cousins and several generations of step grandparents. Whew! That tires me out just typing it! 

That type of tree also seems to go hand in hand with the ” must have as many names as possible” trees, full of mistakes, duplicates, parents born before their children, children with two mothers and one father……just a clear reckless disregard for any semblance of concern for a representation of facts as recorded (accuracy). The name I’d give to that type of tree might be insulting vanity so I’ll just quietly leave that for you the reader to decide. 😉 Let me just repeat a line from a song: “that don’t impress me much.” 

The family history tree is my favorite choice; it includes as many ancestors as I can find information to warrant adding to my tree. I do include collateral kin of blended families but I’ve had to decide where the line needs to stop. Uncle James Public, his spouse, children, his second wife, her children, their biological father, and her father and mother are added for clarification of who’s who. If the second wife’s parents turn out to be descended from another family who is already connected to the family through a different line or marriage, I’ll connect them. Not only does this  flesh out the family tree,  it can also give us a snapshot of history. Friends neighbors and family of course, barring rifts in the relationship, naturally helped each other with many aspects of daily life. It may very well lead to a discovery that your great grandfather signed a witness statement for a neighbor who came home from the War Between the States injured and unable to work for a time. These documents establish residence, and reinforce community ties. And that might lead to finding that elusive Maiden name of that great great grandmother. 

If this type of tree interests you the most, be forewarned; if you are starting with basic information, names, dates and general information,  a family history will not  be written in a weekend or two. They take time, patience, attention to detail, a lot of reading, willingness to keep an open mind, ability to solve mysteries and some days…. a couple of aspirin and a neck massage.

That’s another thing. Keep an open mind. Don’t cling so tightly to that family oral or written history as to be unwilling to accept that it might be chock full of inaccuracies. Family histories are only as accurate as the people relaying the story, and that can change over time for a variety of reasons, whether accidentally or not. That great great great great grandaddy that you think fought and died for the freedom of America during the Revolutionary war may well turn out to have fought for the British, was a spy, lived to be 91, married twice and had 17 children.  It happens to most everyone.

Just be open to the truth and try to be neutral about passing judgement too quickly on ancestors.

Always check as many resources as you can find before adding information or names and dates to your tree. If something comes up that you cannot verify and you’re not sure of, keep it in a ‘to be looked at later’ file for future reference. When  or if it’s later verified to be correct, add it to your tree. Don’t be too hasty to add fluff to your tree.

Take your time, relax, and enjoy the search.

Till next time, happy hunting.

B.L. Stroud


Fill in the blanks. No, don’t!

You’re working on that family tree on You get as far back  as the fifth generation of ancestors. Then, it happens. That blank space–you know the one.  Where you add the mother’s name. The name you don’t know.  At least not the full name. You know what you should do, but you can’t seem to help yourself. It just sits there big and blank and empty and you just have to put something there. Before you know it,  your itchy fingers reach out to the keyboard and fill in that blank. With Jane UNKNOWN.  Immediately, cute little leaves start dancing at you with the proclamation that you have hints!!!

Oh joy. Hints. That thing we love so well on

You point and click.

Congratulations. You now have hints. For Jane Knowles. Jane Knowlton,  Jean Knowleton, J. Bowles, Jane Unitas, Jenn Unity,  and need I go on? Some are in Boise ID, some are in Ireland  and are 300 years ‘off’ from your ancestor’s lifetimes.

For the uninitiated with, its search engine  pulls combinations of names, dates, locations of the data you input along with  any possible combination  of ‘near’ matches.  It looks for numbers in  the date fields, letters names fields, and a minimum of the State  (or region) and the Country for the place. I know, DUH!  Imagine you are a search engine trying to match those items up and someone has entered this information:

name: John Doe ; Birth – somewhere around 1770,  Georgia;
death: at home; residence: Carolina;

spouse Mrs. Doe; spouse birth maybe 1770-1780 in Ala????;
death; don’t know;
residence ?????

The search engine can’t find computer logic in the fields; it’s going to bypass question marks and fragmented sentences in the date fields. If the lady’s maiden name is entered as MNU, the search engine will match up any and every name with any and every possible combination of M, N, and U in it.

This is one reason that the  hints you click on, and/or the ‘search records’ feature  can come up with 119 pages of results that  can be 95%  irrelevant to your search. Most of the “hits” wind up  being “misses”  and lots of time is wasted sorting through all that, or either one gets frustrated and gives up.   Another reason is, it’s just results happy and wants to make you suffer by wading through all that just  in case that ONE relevant clue might turn up.  At least that’s my opinion.   😉   It also opens up the possibility you will get no matches or hints at all.

It seems easy enough:
if you don’t know the information that goes in a field, then don’t put anything in that field .

Leave it blank.

Yet so many people seem  flummoxed by this simple concept.

A pet peeve of mine: messing around with women’s  names, especially the maiden name.

Unless you know, or find records that prove her last name prior to marriage to John Q. Smith  really was Smith, don’t put Mrs. (first name) Smith  (maiden name).

Here’s an example of actual women’s names I’ve seen on family trees.
Names are changed of course, for privacy. 🙂

Mother (spouse)                        Father

Jane Smith                             John Q Smith
Mrs. Smith
Jane LNU
Jane MNU
Jane Unknown
Unknown Smith
FNU  Smith
—-      —–
**** ****
Mrs. John Smith
Jane Maiden Name
Jane Not Known
Jane Don’t Know
Mrs. Unknown wife of Mr. Smith. (:O)

I kid you not. While these apparent bloopers might initially seem amusing, this is non informational filler which serves no purpose.

If is new to you, I hope you find this helpful. Hang in there, it gets easier with time and experience. We were all new at something one time or fifty others.

If you’re doing it for some other reason,  please stop. You’re only clogging the system and making research more difficult for everyone, including yourself.

And is it respectful to fool around with our ancestor’s lives and names like that?  I don’t think so.

By leaving the “unknown information” fields blank you are leaving your tree open for future hints from matches with other future trees. Remember that documents and records are constantly being uploaded and updated, and new people sign up every day to work with  You never know when that distant cousin might just have information you’re missing, and vice versa. It can mean the difference in brick wall breakthroughs.

Happy hunting.

B.L. Stroud


Fill in the blanks. No, Don’t! Part II


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