Friday, August 30, 2013

Follow Friday: Ancestoring

Here we are at another edition of Follow Friday.  Today I'm spotlighting Ancestoring, a family history blog written by Michele Simmons Lewis is a professional genealogist who writes a blog geared toward the beginner and intermediate researcher.

As I was cruising thru the plethora of posts on her blog, I ran into one that grabbed my attention.  My grandfather the "Nazi" was a good reminder of why genealogists should not make assumptions.  The story of Michele's grandfather is quite interesting and reminds that, when researching, it's important to look at the history surrounding the time and person you're researching because there may be some facts that would make a difference in your research.

Michele's blog contains information on everything from numbering systems to timelines.  I appreciate that she will occasionally stop and answer questions she receives.  Her post on Questions About Wills and Probate was very helpful (as are many of her other posts).

This is not a blog you will want to rush thru.  There is a LOT of information on Michele's blog and I've had to Pocket it so that I know I need to stop and really read what she has on there.  I appreciate that, while she imparts a lot of information on her blog, she does so in a short and sweet manner.  I tend to get distracted easily so long blog posts tend to lose me part way thru.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge

Welcome to another Around the Town Thursday!  Now I know what you're thinking: "A bridge??  You're writing about a bridge??"  But this isn't just any bridge.  Today I'm highlighting the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri.

Mid-level of the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge
Native Kansas Citians will recognize this bridge as being down near all the popular haunted houses and the American Royal.  But the bridge has a very interesting history.  Created to be a link between the business district and the industrial district of Kansas City, Missouri, the Viaduct was created by the great minds at Waddell and Harrington (a Kansas City architecture firm) in 1915.  It is one of the earliest examples of a double-decked, reinforced concrete bridge.  The upper level goes from the Central Business District to the West Bottoms.  The lower level goes into Westside, which contains a variety of restaurants and shops.  And below the bridge...well below the bridge are the original cobblestone street farmers would travel back in the day when the bridge was still young.

View from the lower level of the Twelfth Street Viaduct Bridge

Architectural & Historic Research, LLC has a fantastic piece on their website titled "An Historical Perspective of Kansas City's Twelfth Street Trafficway Viaduct 1911-1915" (written by Cyndy Millstein) that contains a ton of great information about the history of the Viaduct and the architects that built it.  There's also a brief history of the bridge on the Historic West Bottoms website.

A very interesting piece of information I discovered during the researching of this post: you can rent the bridge for events.  Weddings, parties, and other events can be held (for a price) either on the lower level or below the bridge on the cobblestone street.  How fun!  I'm not sure how I missed THAT venue for my wedding in June but D1 definitely had a bit of venue envy when I told him the bridge could be rented for events.  You can find rental information for the bridge here.

And just because I can, I'm going to throw a little spotlight my dear husband's way.  In 1997, the music group U2 did a music video here in Kansas City for their song "Last Night on Earth".  The video producers were looking for some old, run down cars for the video and D1 was (and still is) the proud owner of a 1972 Chevy Chevelle.  Said Chevelle ended up in that video as an "extra" (the music video can be viewed on Dailymotion).  At 2:33 if you look past the open truck door to the next car bumper, that bumper belongs to D1's Chevelle. And then again at 2:40 if you look through the rear view window of the car being driven down the bridge you can see some round taillights of a car.  Those taillights belong to D1's Chevelle as well.  It's a memory D1 smiles about each time he tells the story.

It was fun to take a drive down the bridge for pictures for this post.  If you're planning to go see the bridge I would strongly suggest going on a Sunday evening, around 4:00pm or so because there's hardly any traffic at all.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Clarence Harvey Altman

Welcome to another edition of Tombstone Tuesday.  Continuing with the family buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery, today's tombstone belongs to my paternal great-uncle, Clarence Harvey Altman.

Ludwig, Ida and Clarence Harvey's tombstone
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery
Clarence Harvey was the first of four children of Ludwig Wilhelm Altman and Ida Marie (Krueger) Altman.  He had two brothers (both younger) and one sister (also younger).

Clarence was born 14 April 1907 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota and died 18 April 1933 in Ransom County, North Dakota.  He is buried next to his parents, Ludwig and Ida Altman, in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Talking Tech: Family tree apps for the iPad - MobileFamilyTree

Welcome to the last entry in my series on family tree apps for iGadgets.  This week I'm reviewing MobileFamilyTree.  In previous entries I've reviewed GedView, Heredis and LiveHistory.


MobileFamilyTree by Synium is another fairly young app.  I learned about it by doing either a Google search or by searching in the App Store.  And here's my disclaimer for this week: The developers of MobileFamilyTree were kind enough to provide me with a free copy of the app to look at and review.  I make every effort to ensure my posts are fair and unbiased whether I pay for the item (in this case, the app) or it is provided to me at reduced or no cost.

MobileFamilyTree currently only has one review in the App Store for it.  Not having used the app with Family Search (I don't currently have a tree on Family Search) I can't speak to whether the review is accurate or not.

And getting right down to it...

The Good:
  • The interface is very good looking.
  • The GEDCOM import was very easy and I loved how the import progress bar showed not only how far it was in the import process and how far it had to go but it also showed how many people, families, etc. were being imported so I could verify right away that everything imported.
  • The menu options of running reports or viewing the virtual family tree right in the individual record are really great

  • Seeing the fields for nicknames and other names was very exciting!  Not every app has these fields.  And YAY!  A field for married name!  That's a great idea, so you can show whether a female changed their name, kept their maiden name or hyphenated their name!  That feature gets an A+
  • Being someone who works in databases all day I was also thrilled to see appropriate fields for title and suffix as well.

  • There is a good selection of person event options to add to each record.  From adoption to wills and everything in between INCLUDING faith and residences

  • Another home run: the Associated Person field.  Wow, what a great idea to be able to associate a witness or godparent with an event!

  • The in app help is really good.

  • The Research Assistant and Family Search integration are nice features.

  • The reports are fantastic!  I especially like the format of the to-do report.

  • The options that are available of both the views and the reports is wonderful!

  • I like being able to see both the databases you have and the GEDCOM files you've opened in the front screen.

  • It's nice to be able to export to a GEDCOM file or share via the cloud, not all apps have even one of those options, let alone both.

  • Individuals can be bookmarked for easy access, which is a great option.  A start person can also be identified.
  • The labels section is an interesting addition.  I can see there being some potential with that.
  • It has the option to merge a person and add media.
  • The "Places" screen is pretty interesting.  I can see the potential for that area if you're looking for things in certain locations.

  • Navigation is very easy, being set up similar to using a web browser.  This set up makes it quick and easy to move between individuals and families and makes it quick and easy to move from one individual to another.

The Bad:
  • Not being able to see the full location in the "Persons" list is a pretty big inconvenience.  Only the city is currently visible so, for example, if you have two George Smiths with one born in Kansas City, MO and the other in Kansas City, KS you would have to go into each record to see which person was the person you wanted.  Including complete location information in the "Persons" view would make locating the correct person a little quicker.
  • Being able to select a preferred partner or to re-order the partners to show the most recent union first is really necessary functionality in my opinion.
  • Including functionality to allow re-ordering of facts (or other items) would be really helpful.  I like to see my items in chronologically order and unless you enter them that way in this app it doesn't seem to allow you to re-order them.  A genealogist rarely gets to enter events chronologically.
  • There's no field where you can add your own organization code.  Other apps have had this option and it was really nice.
  • Being able to add a source right from the screen of the person you're working in would be much better than having to add it before including the source in a person's record.  On the other hand, it's nice to have the option to be able to add sources.

The Ugly:

  • I would love to see the to-do list have a checkbox next to the item so you could check it off and have it be hidden from the current to-dos on a done list (similar to the Apple "Reminders" app) or at least be moved to the bottom of the to-do list and show as done.  It's kind of clunky when you have to edit the item to mark it done and then it still shows on the to-do list.
  • I'd love to see the option of adding new "types" in the to-do screen.  "Further research" is just too generic for my tastes.
  • I'd also love to see the name/item that's been associated with a to-do show up in the list of to-dos so you don't have to look at each item to know who it's for.  For example, I needed to get several birth certificates.  I titled each item "Get birth certificate copy" and assigned it to a person.  I would have liked to have been able to look at the to-do list and see the title of the to-do and somewhere next to or underneat have the to-do assignment listed.

Recommendations not necessarily falling in the above categories:
  • I know developers are trying very hard to be all-inclusive but I would prefer to have spouse or partner fields to be selectable between the two as opposed to titled specifically "Spouse" or "Partner".  I can see why it's been titled such and that's really a minor personal preference complaint.

I highly recommend this app for any iGadget user, although it has the potential to be somewhat confusing for new iGadget users.  The help documentation is very good on this app though so don't be intimidated by all the bells and whistles it has!

Overall grade: A

That's it for Talking Tech (for now).  If anyone happens to see another app they'd like to have me review please don't hesitate to contact me and let me know.  I'm always happy to spend some time reviewing items that could be helpful to genealogists.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Follow Friday: A Southern Sleuth

It's Friday and we all know what that means...Follow Friday!  Today we're looking at A Southern Sleuth, a journey along with Michelle Taggart as she searches for her southern roots.

I don't limit myself to only reading blogs about genealogy that only applies to my genealogical situation.  I read about Croatian genealogy, Jewish genealogy and Southern genealogy to name a few that don't currently apply to my genealogy.  Why?  Because you never know, one day it might apply to my genealogy.  Or, that blogger might have tried something that I didn't think about trying.

What I like best about Michelle's posts are the fact that, in several posts I read, I noticed she was wondering about her ancestor's thoughts or actions, what their lives were like and wishing she knew all their stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Gift of Time and Giggling With the Pig and I also remember giggling about the name Piggly Wiggly as a child (and, yes, it still makes me smile today).

Take a few minutes today and go enjoy the stories told by Michelle on her blog.  It'll be well worth your time.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: Town Topic Hamburgers

I love Around the Town Thursday.  I love being able to highlight really cool places, especially if they're located in my hometown of Kansas City.  One of those really cool places is a fantastic little diner (or diners since there's more than one) located in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Town Topic Hamburgers has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and several times in the Kansas City Star.  They've won a number of awards; the complete list can be seen here.

Original Town Topic Hamburgers
Downtown Kansas City, Missouri

Town Topic Hamburgers #2
Downtown Kansas City, Missouri
Originally opened in 1937, Town Topic began by selling hamburgers for just a nickel a piece.  You can read more about the history of Town Topic here.  Town Topic's menu has pretty much stayed the same since they opened.  They still serve the same breakfast choices and still cook their burgers the same way as they did in 1937.  They have a strong local following and they encourage you to stop in and visit with some of their regular customers.

D1 introduced me to Town Topic a year or so ago.  I can't believe I've lived in this town my whole life and not stopped in there before D1 took me.  So many years of good food lost, oh the humanity!  My personal favorite is definitely their milk shakes.  Whether you live here or are just visiting you'll want to make sure and make time to stop in at one of their three locations, two in downtown Kansas City, Missouri and one in Mission, Kansas.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Ida Marie Krueger

It's Tuesday again and  you know what that means...that's right, it's another edition of Tombstone Tuesday.  Continuing with the family buried in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery, today's tombstone belongs to my paternal great-grandmother, Ida Marie (Krueger) Altman.

Ludwig, Ida and Clarence Harvey's tombstone
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery

Ida Marie was the second of three children of Wilhelm F.G. Herman Krueger and Johanna L. Hinz.  Johanna died after the birth of her third child and Wilhelm remarried a few years later, having three more children with his second wife, Carolina Rosalina Charlotte Nohr.  So really, Ida Marie was the second of six children.  She had one older brother, one younger brother, two younger half-brothers and one younger half-sister.

Ida Marie was born 29 October 1883 in Morrison, Brown, Wisconsin and died 21 January 1971 in Sheldon, Ransom, North Dakota.  She is buried along with her husband, Ludwig Wilhelm Altman, and son, Clarence Harvey Altman, in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Ida Marie (Krueger) Altman
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Talking Tech: Family tree apps for the iPad - LiveHistory

Continuing my series on family tree apps for iGadgets, this week I'm reviewing LiveHistory.  If you're just tuning in, I've previously reviewed GedView and Heredis.


LiveHistory is still considered a fairly young app.  I can't recall where I learned about LiveHistory at, maybe FaceBook, maybe a blog post on another blog, but they were still looking for testers for their app.  Which leads me to my disclaimer for this post: The developers of LiveHistory were kind enough to provide me a free copy of the app to look at and review.  I make every effort to ensure my posts are fair and unbiased whether I pay for the item (in this case, the app) or it is provided to me at reduced or no cost.

So, as I said, LiveHistory is still a fairly young app.  There are actually only two reviews in the App Store for it (one of which, I will say straight out, I completely disagree with and I believe it to be entirely too harsh as it almost solely focuses on the interface and can't seem to get past what the reviewer considers to be "ugly").  And it's important to remember that LiveHistory bills itself as more than just a genealogy app, it also adds biography functionality to its repertoire.

Okay, enough of that, let's get to it!

The Good:
  • I can't say how much I love that LiveHistory has included an adoption field.  Not enough apps and programs have this as an option.

  • Also fantastic is the occupation field, venue field and residence field!
  • The forecasting is an unique option.  I haven't decided if I'm completely sold on this functionality or not but it's a nice option to have so I'm listing it under "Good".  It could potentially be helpful, but I can also see where it might be limiting for new or unaware genealogists.  I would caution genealogists who use this app to only use this option as a tool to guide you on what time period to look in and to not simply rely on the forecasting as being set in stone.

  • The ability to drag out the pedigree chart and have the chart expand is a nice feature.
  • The notes option on each event screen gets an A+ (note: these screens are a little difficult to find, the event screens utilize the iGadget swipe screen functionality)

  • And LiveHistory hit it out of the park when they provided the option of selecting the type of household (joined or on own) and providing fields for beginning and end dates to that!  Just WOW you guys!!!!!

  • Re-ordering items in this app is SO easy.  There are multiple name slots offered and being able to re-order those easily was an exciting discovery.
  • Relative age mode...GREAT!
  • Another home run is the option to search by first name, nick name or last name all in one place.  YEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!

  • The GEDCOM import is quick and easy.  I had just over 3,600 individuals to import and the import only took between 5 and 10 minutes.  LiveHistory provided a good set of instructions with a tip to make sure the iPad didn't go to sleep.
The Bad:
  • Okay, I've just got to say that the lack of reports is really, really, really, REALLY BAD.  You can't have a genealogy app without at LEAST pedigree charts and family reports.
  • Once I imported my GEDCOM file, the middle names in my family file imported with the first names, which I don't like.  There are blanks for middle name so maybe it was due to the type of GEDCOM I used or the way it was exported but it would be nice if the names went where they were supposed to.
  • Another item that "mashed" together were the dates and places of an event.  These are important items in genealogy and should have separate fields. 

  • It's really a necessity these days, with so many blended families, that being able to list children as biological, step or half siblings be included in a genealogy app.  It's hard to think of everything to include but these are biggies.
  • WHERE is the in-app help????  How about an in-app instruction manual or even just a link that directs you to the app website where the manual could be located at!  I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is a BIG deal for me.  I'd rather have a great help section than pretties or bells and whistles.
  • There are NO fields for LDS users.  Not including these fields is a BAD choice because not having these fields will deter LDS members from using this app and the data stored in these fields will go nowhere when a GEDCOM is imported.  Again, really bad since many other apps offer these fields as an option.
  • Um, where's the export feature?  How can I share my genealogy with others if I can't export to GEDCOM???
  • A cancel option needs to be added when entering a new person or making changes, just in case the user makes a mistake.

The Ugly:
  • Yeah, the interface?  Really ugly LiveHistory.  Now that's not enough to keep me from enjoying the app but it could use some work.
  • It would be really nice if, when there's a swipe screen option (of which there's several), that the bubbles at the bottom of the screen indicating that screen had a swipe screen option were a more contrasting color.  I had to look at the FAQ to discover this, whereas if the bubbles had just been a better contrast I would have been able to figure that out.
  • Suffix field.  In my opinion it's necessary (again I'm a stickler for fields for everything important and suffixes can be important in genealogy).
  • There are no customizable settings.  The app is pretty much cookie-cutter at this point.  There is definitely potential for a future update to allow customizations though!
  • Let's talk about the search/name column at the left.  How about making that collapsible?  Does it really need to be visible at all times or can you collapse it to make more room for the individual information and pedigree view.  As a matter of fact, maybe the LiveHistory developers should consider the possibility that including three different screen views on the not-so-large screen of the iPad isn't the best layout they could have opted for.  How about making it just the search screen and pedigree then being able to switch to the individual view.  Add a couple more toggle buttons at the bottom for different options and open that screen up so you can see more information.  That pedigree view can be a little hard to see past about three generations with the screen the way it is now. 

Recommendations not necessarily falling in the above categories:
  • I appreciate that LiveHistory is including such labels as "Life Partner" in their field, however, I would like to be able to choose between "Spouse" and "Life Partner" for a field.  While I agree that only allowing spouse is too limited, the flip side of that coin is that life partner is too limited of a label as well.  Make that field able to be changed from one to the other.
  • A small inconvenience but I'd like to be able to set a preferred spouse.
  • An option I've seen in other apps is a field for an organizational reference number (a number a genealogist might assign to an individual when organizing their paper files).  I love this option and would love to see it included in a future update since many people use some type of code when organizing their paper genealogy files.
  • With this app you have the ability to browse by time period.  I'm torn on whether I like this or not.  It's a unique feature and has a nice slider bar that you can adjust to filter what you see by date.  I think I just need to get used to it so I'm classifying it as not Good but not Bad or Ugly either. 
  • Another feature I'd like to see (from any of these genealogy apps) is the ability to import GEDCOM files from online storage sites such as Dropbox, Google Docs or Box.

I would recommend this app for new- to mid-level iPad users.  I would rate it as being just barely behind GedView and it's not so advanced it may become confusing for users.  I anticipate LiveHistory will become much more developed in the future as the developer gets more constructive feedback from users.  There is great potential here and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with this app in future updates.  While it's not my favorite app out of the four I'm reviewing, it has the potential to become my favorite and I'll continue to use it.

LiveHistory is a great mixture of a genealogy database and biographical information database.  If you're planning to write a genealogy book or family biography this would be a good app to check out.  The price is a little on the high end in my opinion, I just think there's too many things lacking in the app to justify the regular price of $7.99.  They are currently offering a promotional price of $6.99 but I'm not sure that slight discount would sell me on trying it knowing what I know about the app.

Again, I want to stress that this is still a fledgling app with a great deal of potential.  Keep your eye on this one because I'd wager that there will be some great updates coming down the line!

Overall grade: B+

Friday, August 16, 2013

Follow Friday: A Grave Interest

I have been bitten by the blog bug.  Ever since discovering genealogy blogs I've been looking for good ones to follow, so Geneabloggers' blog listing is a genealogical Christmas for me.  I'm slowly making my way through the listing of over 3,000 blogs and finding some really good ones!

I am so excited about this week's Follow Friday subject.  A Grave Interest may have started as a cemetery-based blog but it's not just limited to cemeteries any longer.  Joy Neighbors writes interesting posts about items of note as well.  Her latest post, Bockscar - A Look Back at the Plane That Ended WWII, has a number of interesting facts that I wasn't aware of about this plane.  It's interesting posts like this that lead me to continue reading a blog.

Joy's posts are interesting, well researched and very well written.  I have to admit, one of my favorites (besides the one about Bockscar) would have to be Lincoln's Phantom Train.  That's a very interesting read indeed.

So take a minute and get your read on for A Grave Interest.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Around the Town Thursday: Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery

Welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  I'm a loud-and-proud-whino so I thought I might introduce you to one of my absolute most favorite places...Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery.  A family-owned winery, Holy-Field is an award-winning winery located in Basehor, Kansas.

According to their About Us page: "The vineyard is planted with Native American and French hybrid varieties with an emphasis placed on growing superior grapes."  I've been to their tasting room on several occasions and not only found their wines to be enjoyable and superior to other wines I've tried but their staff is friendly and helpful as well!

I was recently introduced to their Late Harvest Vignoles at my bachelorette winery tour and I fell in love with it.  Having just gotten back from a whirlwind one day winery tour of Niagara-on-the-Lake (a region famous for its ice wine, a must taste if you haven't yet!) I can honestly say that it rivals some of those ice wines in taste.  However, while ice wine is a late harvest wine, not every late harvest wine is ice wine. Hernder Estate Wines has an article entitled What is Icewine? that gives a good explanation of what ice wine is.

Now, Holy-Field isn't just a taste-and-go establishment.  They have a beautiful deck and gazebo where you can enjoy the bottle of wine you're sure to have purchased from their gift shop while visiting and overlook their vineyards while relaxing.  They also have music events, dinner theater (which always sell out!), Oktoberfest, and picking days (which you won't want to miss).  Most of their events are listed on their calendar of events.

Whether you like red or white, sweet or dry, there's a wine for everyone at Holy-Field and their prices are definitely reasonable.  I have no doubt they'd love for everyone to stop in, say hi and give their wines a try.  Personally, I can't wait to go back!

Poor D1, I'm sure he'll cringe when he reads that last sentence since he recently discovered the...ahem, stash...of wine accumulated from my recent travels for work and the many local wineries I discovered during my bachelorette party winery tour.  As tolerant as he is of my drive to find good, inexpensive, locally-made wines he'll simply smile, pat me on the head and tell me not to buy too many bottles (probably while sipping on the hot pepper wine he happily bought in Oklahoma and Missouri, lol).  Ah, but those are a story for another post (wink, wink).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Ludwig Wilhelm Altman

Welcome to another edition of Tombstone Tuesday.  Today we're jumping states from Missouri to North Dakota and jumping families, as well, from my maternal side to my paternal side.  Located just over an hour west of Fargo, North Dakota and 15 minutes west of Lisbon, Anselm is a small unincorporated farming community.  I'm sure if I was able to go to one of the local libraries or a genealogical society in that area I'd be able to find some history on Anselm but not having had the forethought to do that before I started my blog and not having the time now to head back up there to look I had to settle for what I could find on the internet.

Piecing together what I've observed with what I could find on the internet (which, obviously right now, is purely my theory supported by a few facts), Anselm was a small community of people, probably from the German/Russian region of Europe.  This theory is based on the names in the cemeteries and the fact that my paternal family resided (and still resides) in that area.  It's a strongly Lutheran/Catholic area and active farming community.  It also has some connection to the railroad community.  Currently the Canadian Pacific Railway has a network location there (it was rather interesting to see on their network location map that they also had locations in Enderlin, Fingal and Valley City which are all names I remember my father and grandmother talking about).

Years ago, as a child, I was introduced to Anselm Lutheran Cemetery and told that I had family buried there.  A few years ago, while in North Dakota for a family reunion, we re-visited Anselm and I realized - WOW!  I really DID have family there.  Over half the cemetery has some connection to my paternal family, whether direct line or distant cousins.  My visit there was enlightening to say the least.  So for the next few Tombstone Tuesday posts I'll be highlighting those family members who are buried here.

Anselm Lutheran Cemetery sign

Ludwig, Ida and Clarence Harvey's tombstone
located in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery

So today's tombstone belongs to my paternal great-grandfather Ludwig Wilhelm Altman.  Ludwig was the tenth of thirteen children of Julius and Marie Louise (Froemke) Altman.  He had four brothers (all older) and eight sisters (five older, three younger).

Ludwig was born 12 May 1880 in Shenford Township, Ransom, North Dakota and died 22 August 1968 in Lisbon, Ransom, North Dakota.  He is buried along with his wife, Ida Marie, and son, Clarence Harvey, in Anselm Lutheran Cemetery in Anselm, Ransom, North Dakota.  The cemetery borders what used to be family farmland.

Ludwig Wilhelm Altman
 Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Talking Tech: Family tree apps for the iPad - Heredis

A couple of weeks ago I posted the first of four reviews of family tree apps for the iPad. The post reviewing GedView can be found here. It's since been brought to my attention that a little clarification needed to be made on one point of my review. I indicated in my review that "You can add GPS coordinates to the record, however, GedView cannot locate the coordinates on its own." The developer was kind enough to send me the following clarification: "GedView can make use of GPS to add the current location to an event, although this won't work on non-3G iPads it will work on 3G models and of course on any iPhone. If you edit and an event and tap the Add Latitude/Longitude then to the right of the row will be a blue target button which when pressed will fill in the lat/lon. You are correct if you meant that without lat/lon entered they will not be automatically filled in when a location is searched for on the map or entered in the place field by hand."

So for clarification GedView can use GPS to add the current location to an event but if the latitude and longitude are not already entered, they won't automatically be filled in when a location is searched for or entered into the place field.


Today I'll be reviewing an app called Heredis. Heredis is a free app in the Apple App Store. The current version is 1.2.0 and the reviews in the App Store vary from poor to good.

So, starting with its good points:
  • The interface is clean and simple and the different views are pretty straightforward
Pedigree View

Family View

Individual View
  • You have the ability to store pictures and video within the app
  • You can bookmark a person and mark someone as a root person (which is really nice for quick reference)
  • There is a good list of events that can be added to each person's record

  • There are fields for LDS-specific information (believe it or not, not all apps have areas for this information)
  • You can select to show less information or more information on the screen
  • Navigation is pretty simple. Just tap on the person you want to go to, select whether you want immediate family view or ancestor view. There are buttons for going back and going forward and a direct access button that brings up options for direct access for that person
Good points I really liked:
  • There are fields for nicknames

  • There are fields for an organizational reference (number, etc.); this was a really useful tool for me because I was able to reference the corresponding organizational code for my paper files (or, at least, that's what I think the "User Number" field is for)
  • You can add a "Personal Link" to a record. This can link family members and provide a label for those linked family members. This is a unique functionality I haven't seen before and I liked it.

  • You can add a person from the search screen. This functionality gets an A+ in my humble opinion!

  • You can mark a child as being part of a union from the search screen...another A+ for functionality here!

  • You have the ability to associate other people with events is a great option to have. It means you can associate godparents with a baptism, witnesses with a marriage or someone who provided information for an event with that event

  • An interesting addition to this app is the "Indexes" tab where you can see all the places that have been entered into your family tree. Under each place are items that have been assigned to the place and you can tap on one of those assignments to be taken to that individual/event.

Items I thought could use some updating:
  • It has a field for child status but it needs some updating. It lists options like foundling but doesn't list step-child as an option. In today's society, either the ability to add custom labels or having every label conceivable is a MUST.

  • There is a field for prefix (good for doctors, etc.) and suffix (not all apps have that option), there is not a field for middle names and if you add suffixes they aren't shown in the immediate family view.
  • You can't add a child from an individual's record. For example, if you're in the father's record and discover that father has a child not listed, you can't add the child from the father's record. However, being able to add from the search screen keeps that from being too much of a hassle.
  • From the look of this app, I anticipated this had been the app to use Apple's swipe to delete functionality. It does not, which is a shame because that's a great functionality to utilize for any app.
  • It would be nice to see more charts added. At this time the only chart I can create is a pedigree chart. Granted, it can be a very pretty pedigree chart or it can be a very simple pedigree chart but it would be nice to be able to at least get a family group record out of the app in addition to the pedigree chart.

Items that were just bad:
  • There is a basic help menu but it doesn't go in depth into each field or screen.
  • The website has guides for the Mac and PC version but there's no guide available for the iOS version. There is a forum but when I tried to locate any kind of FAQ section, there was none to be found. I'm still wondering what the "Signature" field is for.
  • The "Nickname" field is not a searchable field. This isn't good in my opinion as there are some people in my family tree that I used to only know by their nicknames.

There aren't many bells and whistles with this app. It has a nice interface and I would recommend it for either a new or mid-level iGadget user. It's prettier than GedView but I think GedView is a far better choice simply because it comes with a much better help document, has more options and is more of a workhorse app. I feel just the help document alone is far more important than how pretty the interface is. Heredis is currently free, which is a nod in its direction. Overall this is an slightly above average app. It performs well and really comes down to how pretty you want your app to be and how many bells and whistles you want to play with.

Grade given: B