TMG Refugee

2016-01-19_0-50-33Refugee status

I have been using The Master Genealogist (TMG) for years now. It’s flexible, allows infinite tweaking of charts, and I can import sources and fact types directly into a new project for each new client. I was so impressed that I started the TMG Sydney User Group in 2004. But a year or so ago TMG was discontinued and I started looking around for a replacement, with the goal that I would use TMG for as long as I could but would be using something new in a year’s time. I figured that sooner or later – a new version of Windows or lack of drivers or something – TMG would no longer work properly and I’d be stuck with all my client projects, not to mention my own family tree.

I did some looking around and from a shortlist of three programs – LegacyRootsMagic, and Family Historian, all of which I owned – I decided on Family Historian. Family tree software is an individual thing and what works for some doesn’t work for others; just look at TMG! I started a new client project from scratch, a tree that even now only has a dozen or so people in it. Last week when I was trying to add new facts I started getting frustrated and decided to import it back into TMG so I could get on with my work. Family Historian uses a GED file and so I thought I could import that file directly into TMG, but TMG didn’t like it, telling me there was no header record.

I wondered whether it was a TMG problem, and imported it into RootsMagic, without any problems, and so I went on with it in RootsMagic. And I’ve changed my mind and made a momentous decision.

I’m going with RootsMagic.

Why RootsMagic?

  • Interface Working with a family tree program is an individual thing, where the interface and navigation comes down to personal preference. Once I started using the program for real I liked it better. It seems closer to TMG, which I liked because I could see everything on the screen at once and I could move it around to suit myself.
  • Charts It uses the same software as TMG does, or at least it looks the same to me. I can select the chart that best suits my needs and then once it’s open in the charting program I can move things around to fit on a page, or join two trees together, or whatever I want. This is important to me, and is almost a reason in itself to choose RootsMagic.
  • Sources I can create templates to suit my own standards, and I can then export them and reuse them in future projects. This gets me up and running quickly on a new client, and was such a help to me when it was introduced into TMG a couple of versions ago that I was dreading being without it.
  • Android App – there is an Android app (and a iPhone one as well) that uses Dropbox to sync the tree to my many Android devices. It’s read-only, which is all I want, and I can update it directly from the file menu within the program.

The more I use it the more I like it. I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’ve used it a lot more.

It’s a momentous decision for me because I spend a large part of nearly every day in my family tree software, working on clients’ trees. I have at least a dozen running at any one time, often more.

RootsMagic allows you to import a TMG file directly, and I have yet to do this successfully because I have to set up my source templates. There are instructions on the website to do this, and there is a helpful forum and Facebook group. I’ve ordered my Getting the most out of RootsMagic book, and it’s been a long time since I’ve ordered a printed book to help me learn something new. I think you can still buy the program at the upgrade price if you are a TMG refugee, and to be honest it’s worth the money even if you only use it for the charts. I already had the previous version so I upgraded to V7.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Late Edit Just for the record, I also tried to bring the GED file from Family Historian into Legacy. The import process goes into a loop and never finishes. I like Legacy but the interface doesn’t do it for me, a very subjective thing, nor the charts.

Australia Day Challenge – A Conditional Purchase Application

Shelley at Twigs of Yore has set herself a task for Australia Day, and a challenge for the rest of us:

Find the earliest piece of documentation you have about an ancestor in Australia. If you don’t have an Australian ancestor, then choose the earliest piece of documentation you have for a relative in Australia.

On Wednesday 26 January 2011 post your answers to these questions:

  1. What is the document?
  2. Do you remember the research process that lead you to it? How and where did you find it?
  3. Tell us the story(ies) of the document. You may like to consider the nature of the document, the people mentioned, the place and the time. Be as long or short, broad or narrow in your story telling as you like!

What document to choose? Which ancestor? The first one in Australia, or the first one born in Australia?

I’ve decided to go with one of my first arrivals into the colony of New South Wales but ignore the very first documents, which are the assisted immigrant passenger lists. These lists are easy to find – you search the online index at the State Records NSW website, and then you look up the microfilm. There are two lists, and if you are lucky your ancestor will appear in both. I posted a story a few years ago about how I found my Richard Eason’s mother’s mother from the ‘relative in the colony’ Richard gave when he immigrated, so I won’t repeat that here.

Instead I’d like to focus on what Richard did when he got here. He eventually became a farmer, and the first document I have for him that he actually signed is his application for a Conditional Purchase.

Conditional Purchases were introduced in 1862 as a way of getting small landholders on the land. They paid an initial deposit of %10 of the value of the land, and had to pay it off. The conditions were that they had to reside on the property, and they had to improve it – build a house, fences, etc. They could select land before it was surveyed, so by the time the surveyor came around there was often some improvements already built, which the surveyor often marked on the plan.

The land is 40 acres in the Parish of Graham, County of Bathurst, which is just north of the town of Blayney.

Conditional Purchase application form

State Records NSW: NSW Lands Department, Conditional Sales Branch, Correspondence files 1877-1951, NRS8103. Letter no. 71/5977.

I am inclined to think that Richard filled out this form himself, product of the Irish Education system as he was. He said he could read and write when he arrived in the colony in 1850, as did most of the people on the Oriental with him. The handwriting looks similar throughout, except for the signatures of others.

The form was also signed by Robert Ewin. Robert was Richard’s brother-in-law, Richard having married Esther Ewin in 1862. Robert also had land in this area, and Richard bought some of it from him later on.

When the survey was done the land was found to be slightly larger than the 40 acres, and Richard agreed to pay the extra.

Richard built a house on this land and raised his family in it, even though his wife died not long afterwards. His son John raised his own family there. John’s son Richard, my grandfather, sold the land and took the materials for his own building.

The process of finding this document was made easier by the fact that the Conditional Purchase number and Richard’s name was recorded on an old parish map:

Graham Parish map 1884 detail

NSW Lands Department, Historical Parish Maps. Bathurst County, Graham Parish, 1884. Detail showing Portion 199.

Once I had the Conditional Purchase number, CP71.252, I could go to State Records NSW at Kingswood and ask to see the Conditional Purchase Register for that year. From there I could trace the correspondence through the Correspondence Registers to find the documents. It sounds easy but it is quite time consuming, and easy to make mistakes.

On the map you can see many other names of the people that Richard must have known. Robert and William Ewin were his brothers-in-law. A sister-in-law married a Thornberry. All of them came from the same couple of parishes in County Tyrone in northern Ireland.

A couple of years ago I visited this land and saw the remains of the house. I have written about this previously. I met the current owner of the property, who gave me a photo of Richard’s son John Eason, my great-grandfather, that I had never seen before.


Remains of the house at 'Fernside' near Blayney

I’ve traced many conditional purchases since then, but none have been as exciting as this first one!

Further information:
State Records NSW Archives in Brief No 93 – Background to conditional purchase of Crown land

DNA testing continued

DNA graphic

DNA graphicI had decided to take advantage of a special deal with 23andMe and get my DNA tested. I am hoping to learn a bit about my deep ancestry from my mitochondrial DNA in this test, as well as some genetic health risks and susceptibilities.

I tried to order the kit a few days before. I eventually realised that my first order with 23andMe didn’t go through, so I ordered again. I received confirmation that it has been sent, which I hadn’t had before, so obviously I had done something wrong, or not done something, before. So far so good!

Timeline so far:

9 Dec 2010 – I ordered a kit from 23andMe

10 Dec 2010 – Kit was shipped from 23andMe

13 Dec 2010 – Kit arrived at my front door

15 Dec 2010 – I spat my sample into the test tube

16 Dec 2010 – Sample collected by courier

21 Dec 2010 – Sample arrived at the 23andMe lab, and I was reminded to register my kit on the website

The process takes 6-8 weeks, so there will be no new updates for a while.

In the meantime, I had ordered some books from Amazon. That order did go through, and all 5 of them have arrived – 3 all at once and the other 2  individually. I’ve read the first 3, the last one being Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner’s Trace Your Roots with DNA, (2001). Even though the book is nearly 10 years old it gives an excellent introduction to the basics of DNA testing. They discuss the coming developments pretty accurately – more markers, more usefulness for mtDNA, more popularity and so better chances of matching with someone else’s test results.

All this reading has inspired me to more testing! I’ve ordered a test for my maternal uncle, and one for my unsuspecting father or brother.

I’ve also changed companies. I will be using Family Tree DNA for these and probably all subsequent tests. It’s not that I think that they are a better company, or do better tests; it’s more that they do different tests.

Family Tree DNA are more concerned with pure genealogy, whereas 23andMe are more concerned with the health aspects of DNA. It will be interesting to compare the two. Family Tree DNA has, as far as I can tell, the largest number of  projects.

A project is what you join if you want to find matches with other people who may be relatives. The pricing is less expensive if you join a project. Most of the projects are for surnames. My husband, for example, is part of the Bassett project, so he can see how closely he is related to other Bassetts around the world, and where their most recent common ancestor came from. There is little point in getting your DNA tested unless you want to compare it with others’.

Other projects are for geographic areas. My uncle is one of the last of a line of Easons, the first of whom came to Australia from County Tyrone in what is now Northern Ireland, so he will be part of the Ulster Project. The story we were told was that Eason was originally a French Huguenot name with a d’ on the front of it. I have not found any evidence of this as yet, but then my trail runs cold in 1813 with the marriage of Sarah Irwin of Clogher, Tyrone, to Richard Eason of Armagh.

Family Tree DNA do not use couriers unless requested, so this story will unfold a little more slowly.

Image courtesy of Chris Harvey at Dreamstime.