Part of the worldwide genealogy/family history community

FamNet eNewsletter October 2016

ISSN 2253-4040

Quote.  Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing – Wernher von Braun


Editorial 2

Regular Features. 2

From the Developer 2

FamNet’s General Resource Databases. 2

Telling your story.    Index. 5

The Nash Rambler 5

Reminiscing. 5

Irish research. 6

Future use of cemeteries. 6

DNA Testing for Family History. 7

Wairarapa Wandering. 7

Jan’s Jottings. 8

Retreat Research Weekend. 8

An Occasional Column from Robert Barnes. 9

Thoughts on Immigration. 9

From our Libraries and Museums. 9

Auckland Libraries. 9

Finding elusive ancestors with Michelle Patient 9

Family History & DNA - the Science of Identity. 10

Group News. 11

Whangarei Family History Computer Group. 11

Waikanae Family History Group. 11

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group. 12

News and Views. 14

The Future of Genealogy Software. 14

Who Actually Owns the Family Tree You Have Online?. 17

Robert’s Comments. 20

Community. 21

Letters to the Editor 21

Information Wanted/Offered. 21

Book Reviews. 22

Edward Constable, Settler, Waiuku, New Zealand. 22

The Nightingale. 22

In conclusion. 22

A Bit of Light Relief 22

Advertising with FamNet 23

To Unsubscribe,  Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information. 23

Copyright (Waiver) 23


Share this newsletter  

FBTweet Email


Well here is my first attempt at being editor.  It is a much harder than I thought.  Simple things like page layout, font sizes, etc take a lot of time to work out.  I thought I was computer literate but .....  Sorting out what is a good article to put in and communicating with regular contributors is interesting and time consuming.  I never realised how far and wide across the world this newsletter goes.

Since Robert announced my tenure I have received many encouraging communications.  Keep them up and maybe include an article or two.  If you want to be a regular contributor you are welcome - it is a way of getting your articles published.  If you find an article or blog that interested you then pass it on to us.

My editorial philosophy is basically to produce a regular newsletter on time, full of interesting submissions that inform the reader and encourages debate and gets us thinking together.  This month I have included a blog by Dick Eastman about the future of computer programmes for genealogy. 

The newsletter is only as good as its contributors and we have some good ones.  But we can do with more.

In this issue: -

·                     From The Developer:  General Resource Databases

·                     The Nash Rambler:  I reminisce about the old days of researching, admire the ease of Irish research and discuss the future use of cemeteries.

·                     DNA testing for Family History:  Gail takes a rest this month

·                     Wairarapa Wandering:  Adele admires a relative of hers that died recently

·                     Jan’s Jottings: notice of a Retreat Research Weekend.

·                     Auckland Library Events: October Lectures in the lunchtime series and the featured Lectures:  Family History & DNA - the Science of Identity 

·                     Robert has added an occasional column on his thoughts on Immigration

·                     Hanley Hoffmann has written about Family Tree Maker

·                     We’re delighted to welcome another group member: Waitara.  We’ve put Marion Wellington’s letter about aboriginal war veterans in their group news section.

·                     Two book reviews

·                     An article about the future of computer programmes

·                     An article about who actually owns your on-line data


That should get you thinking.




Peter Nash


Back to the Top

Regular Features

From the Developer

FamNet’s General Resource Databases

This month I’ll get back to the task of going through the facilities of FamNet.  Previous articles have focussed on the Genealogy Database (GDB), the main part of FamNet that is where you put your family records in a searchable tree-linked database.  With more than 15 million records this is by far the most important part of FamNet, and so was the obvious place to start.  But there’s more.  Now we’re going to tell you about the other free goodies (free steak knives?) that you get with FamNet.  This month we’ll start looking at the General Resource Databases.

Once you’ve registered/logged on to FamNet, the home page shows these buttons, plus a number of links below the heading “Genealogy Database”.  Usually you’ll click [Genealogy Database], or one of the links below the Genealogy Database heading,  but what happens if you click “General Resource Databases”?


If you click [General Resource Databases] you are shown a list of general databases.  These are data organised in tables, like Excel spreadsheets.  There are two sections, “People-related Tables”, and “Other Tables”.

The People-related Tables are tables that you can search by name, for example Burials, Aliens, Emigrants, Hangings, etc.  Other tables are largely support tables: things like Cemeteries, Ports, etc that are linked to a People table to give common information (such as a cemetery location).  You are unlikely to look up the other tables yourself, although you can if you want to.

Here is the current list of People-related tables: -

The largest of these tables, with almost 32000 records, is the Burials table.  Click Open and you see: -

With 50 entries per page there are a great many pages.  Fortunately you don’t have to go through them all looking for entries of interest: click [Show Search/Update Panel] to display this panel above the first page of data: -


The search panel allows us to enter search criteria: for example, if I want to find all the people with surname “BARNES” then I’d enter this in the Family Name textbox and click [Search]: of the 23 records returned there are three buried at St Mary's Anglican Church, Karori that are my family.

Notice the button [Select Columns].  Click this and you’ll see a much longer list of columns: there are about thirty different columns recorded for this table, including even the name of the horse that drew the hearse (although this only applies to one cemetery, I forget which one).  You can search for records using any of these fields.

All of the people-related tables work the same way, although the particular fields they have available for display and searching differ.

In the next newsletter I’ll continue with: How to add and update general resource databases.

Telling your story.    Index

So far I’ve covered these topics.

1.  Writing your story as notes, or with Word.  Embedding links in Word documents. 

2.  Embedding pictures in Word documents. 

3.  Saving Documents for Web Publication.

4.  Saving Scrapbook Items

5.  Sharing your Story: Managing your Family Group

6.  On Line Editing: More Facts, Family, GDB Links

7.  Comparing and Synchronising Records

8.  Producing and Using Charts

9.  Merging Trees.  Part 1:  Why Bother?

10.  Merging Trees.  Part 2:  Adding Records On-Line

11.  Merging Trees.  Part3.  Combining Existing Trees

12.  Finding Your Way Around FamNet (Getting Help)  

13.  FamNet – a Resource for your Grandchildren

Back to the Top

The Nash Rambler

This column will be a true ramble as I wander from subject to subject.  This month logic has deserted me.


I read a column in which a long time researcher was bemoaning the modern genealogists he meets.  He recalled the good old days in which we all spent long hours in front of film readers looking at parish records (generally) in a darkened room.  In those days the first thing you did was find out what films others had ordered, just in case you wanted them too.  Then before you sat down you talked to everybody about what they were viewing, making sure that they knew your names just in case.  Then away you went page by page, writing down anything that might be relevant.  You celebrated with the other researchers when they had a breakthrough and you made sure they celebrated when you had a breakthrough.  The same thing happened in National Archives and/or libraries.  The whole exercise was a social occasion with other loony researchers who understood your addiction.

Remember when the IGI went on the computer.  You begged for permission to have a play.  I even volunteered as a helper so that I could get at the computer. We attended branch meetings of the NZSG just to ask questions or pick up suggestions for further research.  I was lucky to have Anne Bromell in my branch.  It was well worth the small door charge just to get the valuable hints she gave - she never solved your problem, she pointed you in the right direction.  The only problem was that you had to tell the whole group about your problem and the subsequent solution that you found.  You ended up knowing what everybody else in the group was researching.  I remember solving a big problem for a member who was having difficulty getting her then 94 year old father-in- law to talk to her about his history - he was very rude about it.  I found the reason why in the Police Gazettes - he had been a very naughty teenager with a penchant for motorbikes - someone else's bikes and I mean bikes and it involved a stay in a government run accommodation way out in the countryside - borstal.  Once again the whole exercise was a social gathering of addicts exchanging tips and sources and helping one another.

To sum up his thoughts, the columnist christened those old genealogists as giving genealogists.

Nowadays genealogists still sit in darkened rooms staring at screens - computer screens.  They have no need for help from others, they know it all.  If it doesn't appear on their screen it doesn't exist.  Their jackpot is to find a tree out in the internet ether.  Copy and paste - well done!  A successful night, discovered 50 more ancestors.  It must be right it is on the internet.  Don't know where I found it but I did.  We all know at least one of these modern genealogists.  My columnist called them taking genealogists.  There is no social interaction with other researchers with the exchange of tips, ideas etc.

I met a few of these researchers at local market where I volunteered to help man (sexist word but correct in this instance) the table of a genealogy group for a few hours.  I tried to engage anybody showing any interest.  All had done or were doing their research on the internet.  They didn't need any help, and how dare I question them about their sources.  The libraries are morgues - rooms of gloomy silence.  Nobody has a genealogical gossip with the researcher next door to their table.  Nobody cares about other researcher's problems.

I can see why genealogy societies are dying although some are run by non-professionals and are losing their focus.  I must be getting old and grumpy.

I miss that old-style genealogy where addicts were of the giving variety.  The modern "taking" style is not fun.

Irish research

I'll move onto a more enjoyable subject.  Boy hasn't Irish research got easier and easier and cheaper and cheaper.  I am thoroughly enjoying my research.  Now that Irish census records are free on the internet as are the Church records.  But last week the historic Births, Deaths and Marriages have appeared on-line for free.  Wow what a treasure trove of research material!

My wife is Irish, although born in England, but we won't mention that fact - it irritates her.  I have received a bare skeleton of her ancestry from one of her cousins.  I have now been able to verify it as correct but also put many more branches and twigs onto her family tree.  I have also acquired the autobiography of her uncle (a soccer coach of some renown) who has written about his upbringing in the ghettos of Dublin in the 1920's and 1930's.  I have also used Irish newspapers to some effect - one of her "cousins twice removed or similar" had the misfortune to fall off a beer silo in a brewery and fractured his skull (he should of drunk it empty first and tipped it over to do the job he had to do).Now I'm back into the late 1700's without much expense.  The unfortunate thing is that, in this instance, I have become a "taking" genealogist but the pleasure was huge.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if New Zealand took the same sort of attitude as Ireland in making historical records freely available and free? We are starting with World War 1 service records and the probates on Family Search but more should be available.

But now I'm into the tricky stuff getting further back.  I must become a "giving" genealogist and attend a meeting or two.

Future use of cemeteries

I don't want to rub your noses into it but I want to talk a little more about my trip overseas to England.  In particular I want to talk about cemeteries and what to do with them in the future.  I saw a few ways of handling cemeteries past their use-by date -.basically two methods: hiding them, finding alternative uses.

The first method was hiding them.  In Oxford's main tourist district there is a lovely old church on the main road.  The front of the church is very well kept and has lovely low fences, manicured lawns and graveyard.  BUT the back of the church has very high fences - over 2 meters high.  You cannot see what is on the other side.  But I managed to do so and found over-run graves with weeds about 2 metres high and it was a veritable jungle.  Half the cemetery means half the maintenance bill. 

In North Cockerington, near Louth in Lincolnshire, they hid the church and churchyard.  We spent about 30 minutes going round and round where it should have been but, after gate crashing a private barbeque function, I got directions - go through that farmyard, around behind that big piggery shed and you'll see it.  The churches - there are two - are lovely and were open.  The churchyard was not as well maintained as others we visited but it wasn't too bad.  What the eye can't see doesn't matter.  This method requires less grounds maintenance.

The second method was finding alternative uses.  The Highgate Cemetery in London has become a tourist destination.  The west cemetery has architectural significance and is only open to people on official tours through it.  The east cemetery has and is being slowly reclaimed from overgrowing weeds and is open for anybody, at a price.  It has the grave of Karl Marx for example, and is well worth the trip to view it and the many other imposing grave stones of famous and not-so-famous persons.  I walked through a park and Hampstead Heath to get there and back and would thoroughly recommend a visit.  Of course a photo of you standing by Karl Marx's tombstone is compulsory for all political leanings.  I can give a lecture on who Karl Marx was for those who don't know.  I notice that, in New Zealand, guided tours of cemeteries are becoming more popular these days. 

Louth, in Lincolnshire, has another way of using their cemetery.  They removed all headstones and lined them up on the sides of the grounds (in concrete and thus immovable and unable to be read).  My lovely wife volunteered to dive into overgrown weeds to see if any were mine.  Unfortunately the weeds were stinging nettles and I laughed loudly - I paid dearly for that indiscretion.  They then turned the cemetery into a lovely park that was used by a few young families whilst we were there.  One of my life's wise observations is that cemeteries that started out on unwanted land become, over time, valuable land and often very picturesque (Hillsborough cemetery for example).  As cemeteries they are under-utilised once they become full and lines of headstones are not very conducive to picnics, children's games, romantic interludes and the other activities that happen in lovely parks. 

We, in New Zealand, are going to face the problem of what to do with cemeteries soon.  The arguments are going to be very emotional but they need to take place.

Regards to all

Back to the Top

DNA Testing for Family History

Gail is taking a break this month.  We apologise to all the readers who are following the DNA trail




Previous articles in the series are:

1.  What is Molecular Genealogy?

2.  Where would I begin?  

3.  What test should I take?

4.  What DNA will NOT tell you and the risks involved.

5.  Direct paternal line (men only).

6.  Direct maternal line (men and women).

7.  All the lineages including maternal and paternal (men and women).

8.  Understanding direct paternal results.

9.  Understanding direct maternal line results.

10.  Understanding your Autosomal ("cousin") results.

11.  Understanding the X Chromosome.

12.  Bits ‘n Bobs:  DNA Testing Companies, Glossary.

13.  DNA Websites, Blogs, and Forums

14.  Commonly Asked Questions – Some Basic, Some Advanced

15.  DNA – Something a little different…

16.  Current Pricings for the Three Main Genealogical Testing Firms

17.  DNA Testing for Family History

18.  Starting a new series on Y DNA Testing

19.  DNA Testing – Getting into SNP testing on the Y chromosome to enhance your Family History
20.  DNA Testing – Getting into SNP testing on the Y chromosome to enhance your Family History 

Gail Riddell 

Wairarapa Wandering. 

ILMO Wing Commander Terry KANE RAF. 

Terry was born in London September 9, 1920, and died in Cambridge August 5, 2016, just a few weeks short of his 96th Birthday.

I wrote to him after seeing him on NZTV last year whilst he was attending a function at Buckingham Palace.  Over the years he and I had corresponded, as his mother Gertie was sister to my grandfather, Alfred Joseph PENTONY.  I do have a letter from him telling me about being shot down over the English Channel and being a POW during WW2.  He was one of the few, a Battle of Britain pilot.  In the POW camp he met up with his brother, Squadron Leader Mike KANE MBE, whose Whitley bomber had been shot down two months earlier.  It was in 1942 that the two brothers were moved to the new Luftwaffe Camp, Stalag Luft 111 at Sagan, next to the compound where the Great Escape took place in March 1944.

We never realise that one day a letter may become history and to be kept safely.  I often wonder if my late father knew of Terry, as we grew up in London not knowing any other PENTONY’s or KANE’s!

Whilst in England during 2004, I met two more cousins for the first time on the Pentony side, Christian names Terry… after Terry their cousin it is assumed - one with the surname PENTONY and the other one a different surname. 

My father, Gerard Francis Ridley PENTONY, served with RAF and RCAF back in England during WW2.  Even after the War, dad’s crew used to visit us in Streatham, they always spoke very highly off him, something for his family to be proud off.

After the war, Terry Kane lived in Dorking, Surrey, so near yet so far, as after 1970, we were living about a mile away at Walton on the Hill, near Tadworth, and never knew of him,

It's only through doing family research that I learnt of all the Terry’s! I also found PENTONY's over in Australia, who descended from my grandfather's brothers who sailed for Australia many years earlier..  One did come to Auckland and was a milkman there, but later moved to Melbourne.

Since learning about Terry KANE passing over, I sent off for a special envelope with Terence Kane’s signature on and the words: 234 Squadron, Spitfire Mk 1B, the Battle of Britain (10 July 1940 – 31 October 1940)

RIP Terence Kane…

Adele Pentony-Graham

Wairarapa Wanderer.

Jan’s Jottings

Retreat Research Weekend 

JanGowHullo Fellow Bone Rattlers!!  Or should I say "fellow researchers". 

Those of you who have been around for some years will remember we used to say "when they are ready for you to find them, they will rattle their bones"!!!

Well times have changed and now we have the ability to make their bones, not just rattle - but DANCE!!!

But we have to PREPARE, PARTICIPATE, PRESERVE to know what to do, how to do it and then what to do. 

AND learn about Collaborate, Corroborate, Coordinate.

ALSO, we have to make TIME in our busy days.  Hence the Retreat Research Weekend.

Interested? Just email to and ask for more information.

WHAT: SLC2NZ  Retreat, Research, Weekend

WHEN: Fri 21 Oct 1.30pm until Mon 24 Oct - afternoon (your choice of departure time)

WHERE: Best Western Motel, Great South Rd, Auckland.  Conference room.  Accommodation $40-$80 per person per night

WHY: The chance to experience a little of what it is like in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City without the long flight

         The chance to be part of an hour long webinar straight from FamilySearch in SLC

         The chance to learn how to use the main genealogy sites and so get your money's worth and your time's worth

         The chance to have your family the subject of concentrated 'pressure cooker' research

         The chance to win worthwhile spot prizes      

         The chance to do lots more - see the poster and blurb!!

Email to register and for more info.

Jan Gow

An Occasional Column from Robert Barnes

I’m going to use “From the Developer” to focus on technical issues: how to use FamNet etc, and give other topics to Peter to ignore or use as he will. So expect to see bits and pieces from me scattered through the newsletter, at Peter’s discretion.

Thoughts on Immigration

Whether our ancestors arrived about 800 years ago with the earliest Polynesians, came with the Wakefield colonists, or stepped off a plane last year, we’re all immigrants to New Zealand.  The media often report anti-immigrant views from those of us who’ve been here a while, and we have politicians (I’m thinking of you, Winston Peters) who stoke the xenophobia from time to time.  Like many of our generation I can’t help wondering if all these new people, especially those that don’t look like me, are a good thing for New Zealand even though I feel that I should be welcoming and I love the diversity in our culture and cuisine that results.  We all romanticise our past, forgetting how boring New Zealand was before the 60’s, but what will we lose as we shuffle up to make room for another million or so?  Will the price be too much to pay for being able to eat Chinese, Thai, Italian, …?

On the 9th August “The Hard Stuff with Nigel Latta” was about immigration.  If you missed it, click the link to see it from TVNZ On Demand.  I came away from it with a new respect for the way our government – of whatever political leaning – handle this.  The Department of Immigration is strongly focussed on doing good for New Zealand.  Except for a very small humanitarian quota, the criterion basically is “Will this person be good for NZ”.  We often think of government departments as large bureaucracies running on autopilot, but I was impressed with the way the department continually tweaks its policies to achieve the outcome that we want, keeping track of the net contributions of various groups.  Our prejudices suggest that immigrants are a drain on our social services requiring excessive benefits, making our houses unaffordable, and so on, but the figures show that immigrants contribute positively to our economy.  The worst-performing group: those of us who were born here!  We need more immigrants, partly to pay for our super, and partly to build the houses that we all need.

Without immigrants we’d be poorer financially, and poorer culturally.  Like Rangitoto College, we become richer as we move from tolerating diversity to embracing it.  If you’re one of those who worry about these new people, click the link and see Nigel’s program.  It may change your mind!

Robert Barnes

From our Libraries and Museums

Triggered by an email from Seonaid (Shona) Lewis, we are offering a forum to our libraries and museums to publicise their events, and to contribute articles to this newsletter that may be of interest to our readers and by publicising what’s available at their library/museum increase their visitor numbers.  Auckland Libraries is starting to make good use of this free service, let’s see if other libraries and museums take up this offer.

For readers of this newsletter: please bring this to the attention of your local libraries etc, and encourage them to participate.

Auckland Libraries

Reminder: Events 11 October at Central Library, Lorne St, Auckland

Finding elusive ancestors with Michelle Patient 

Figure drilling through a brick wall.When: Tuesday 11 October, 3.30pm – 5.30pm
 Central City Library, Whare Wānanga, Level 2
Cost: Free, all are welcome. 
To ensure your place, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 890 2412, or complete our
 online booking form.

Are some of your ancestors more elusive to find than others?

Why not come along to an afternoon session discussing how understanding the background and distribution of a surname might help further your research.  Also come to hear tips, tricks and research strategies designed to break through your brick-walls.

Presented by the Guild of One Name Studies New Zealand Representative - Michelle Patient (aka

Afterwards, please join us for light refreshments, followed by a wonderful opportunity to hear Brad Argent, Family Historian & International Spokesperson for Ancestry and Dr Carla Houkamau, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland discuss: -

Family History & DNA - the Science of Identity 

When: Tuesday 11 October, 6.30pm
Where: Central City Library, Whare Wānanga, Level 2
Cost: Free.  Bookings are essential.  Refreshments will be served from 5.30pm

Bridging the tension between cultural and genetic histories.

A sense of identity is usually formed over time by memetic (or cultural) history, while revelations of genetic identity often happen in an instant.  DNA tests can reveal multiple stories at play, creating a dichotomy where cultural histories conflict with genetic background. 

Dr Carla Houkamau from the University of Auckland (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou), and family historian as well as Ancestry international spokesperson, Brad Argent, will explore the concept of identity, and what it means to be a contemporary New Zealander in an increasingly multicultural society.

Seminar speakers:

Dr Carla Houkamau, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland

Brad Argent, Family Historian & International Spokesperson, Ancestry

When it comes to identity, many of us have grown up thinking that we are a part of a singular story, yet our identity is informed by many factors, including culture, community and oral traditions, as well as family history informed by lineage and records. 

Memetic (cultural) as well as genetic (DNA) histories can play a role in the formation of identity.  With the rise of products such as AncestryDNA, discovering one’s ethnic background and finding people with whom you share a common ancestor have become increasingly more accessible.  In addition, as databases have grown to more than two million people globally, that information is becoming more accurate and comprehensive. 

In this seminar, University of Auckland senior lecturer Dr Carla Houkamau will discuss the diversity evident in Māori society today in terms of cultural, social as well as political differences, and how identifying as Māori can be shaped by socialisation and family relationships.
Ancestry’s international spokesperson, Brad Argent, will explore how ethnicity identified through DNA tests can confirm or disrupt a person's notion of identity.  In some cases, the genetic and memetic dichotomy can see them reassessing who they really are.

Come earlier and hear Guild of One Name Studies representative Michelle Patient show you how to Find your Elusive Ancestor.

Speaker's Backgrounds

Dr Carla Houkamau is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland, where she specialises in the areas of personal identity, inter-cultural communication and diversity management.  Carla is of Pākehā and Māori descent, specifically Ngāti Kahungunu (Ngāti Kere) and Ngāti Porou (Whanau o Tu-Whakairiora), and has special interest in psychological (particularly social psychological) understandings of identity, particularly with regard to contemporary Māori identity.

Brad Argent is a family historian and international spokesperson for Ancestry, as well as expert on the AncestryDNA product.  Based in Europe, Brad has recently been featured in a video series created by international travel search site Momondo, which showed how we are more genetically connected than we might at first assume.  The clips have been viewed more than 100 million times on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.

Find out more about The DNA Journey with Momondo and Ancestry here.

2017 Family History Lunchtime Series @ Central Library, Auckland

I am currently seeking suggestions for topics and speakers for next years’ series.

They are held fortnightly on a Wednesday, and start on Wednesday, 8 February 2017, I have filled the February dates, so need to fill from 8 March onwards.

We are “rebranding” this series and next year will be calling it “Heritage Talks”, to encourage a wider audience, as often our topics have a much broader interest than family historians.

This year’s programme here:

Anyone with suggestions, please email me

Many thanks

Ngā mihi | Kind regards


Like and follow our Facebook page:

Group News

Whangarei Family History Computer Group


image001 Wayne: (09) 437 2881

 Pat: (09) 437 0692


Thursday evening venue is 6 Augusta Place, Whau Valley.  Call Wayne or Pat or;

email, if you need directions.

 Saturday meetings are held in the SeniorNet rooms in James Street. 

The rooms are upstairs in the Arcade leading to Orr’s Pharmacy and Tiffany’s Café, Start time 9.30 till finished before 1.30pm. 

Whangarei Family History Computer Group News

Quite a number of our members have submitted samples for DNA testing and have some interesting results.  Some are using Family Tree DNA and some using Ancestry – the story continues and we are all learning how to use a new tool.

I have found this site very refreshing and worth a look –

“The Family History Guide is a website that represents a best-in-class learning environment for family history.  Its scope is broad, but its focus is narrow enough to help you achieve your goals, step by step.  Whether you're brand new to family history or a seasoned researcher - or somewhere in between - The Family History Guide can be your difference maker.


Waikanae Family History Group


Email:  Phone  (04) 904 3276,  (Hanley Hoffmann)

Venue:  Meets every 4th Thursday morning at the Waikanae Chartered Club, 8 Elizabeth Street Waikanae, just over the Railway Crossing from 9.30am to 12 -12.30pm, every month from January to November.  Research days planned for either 2nd or 3rd Thursdays at 9.30am approximately four times a year. 

Family Tree Maker 2006 V15/16

I am a long time user of this old FTM programme and I have some advice for those who have foolishly been cajoled into buying upgrades from 2008 onwards.  Most family historians have been subjected to the pressure from adverts and articles in our family history magazines which all advocated the new versions of old faithful programmes.  But they are all far too complex and different from that simple old 2006 version.


I have to ask you, are you on this planet to stress and develop anxiety over that new version you went off to Dick Smith or Noel Leemings and spent $100 plus or minus on, then when you loaded it you swore – because where in hades do I go now for a simple family page like that 2006 one, or do you just want to get on with doing your family history?  Did you keep your receipt for that purchase because the best relief for all that stress is to take that new programme back to the store and get your money back?  Go right back to your old faithful 2006 version, it is the “automatic” model of all the programmes, like the classic cars, and it keeps you sane.


You might wonder why I am so biased for 2006 and totally agin the rest and their new versions.  Take yourself back into the old model, and just look – it presents you with almost a whole family at a glance, in very clear font in black lettering on a white background.  Put it up on a big screen and it is still very readable – try that with the new versions or new versions of others, I won’t name them, and they are almost impossible to read. 


What is also good about that family page is the “Edit” boxes and the drop down menus at the top that get you where you want to go in a flash.  I have produced three family histories using FTM 2006 and the “Outline descendant” reports that you can print out for each of your families or else one multi page printout for a whole family line.


I have been teaching members to use this programme for 10 years and if I can find a second hand programme disk I will give it to someone who is just starting out.  Most people get a short half to one hour tutorial from me and they are away.  Recently I had a call from a Kilbirnie member who just purchased a new computer with Windows 10.  And horror of horrors her Family Tree Maker 2006 and all her data disappeared, and the computer technician could not help her.  So I met her at the Kilbirnie meeting with her new laptop, and hey presto, I loaded the programme disk for her and up popped her FTM and all her data – nothing lost – one overjoyed member. 


Now I want to make an appeal – if you had this programme and moved on, but still have that programme disk, can I have it, but do not give it to me if you think after reading this that you want to revert to using it. 


If there is an easy way take it.  Life is too short to get stressed over what one of Ancestry’s top men in the States agreed with me, was that the new versions were far too complex.  More to the point he did not offer me any consolation about doing something about it.  Family Tree Maker 2006 is like those old classic cars, beautiful, comfortable, serviceable and after 10 years it will still get you very satisfactory results without hassle.


I am off this week to do some more tutoring at Kilbirnie’s research day on FTM 2006.


Hanley Hoffmann                  

Waikanae Family History Group

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

The contact details of this group are:

Waitara Districts History & Families Research Group

Rose Cottage 33 Memorial Place


Tel: 06 – 754 – 3212  


(This was written originally as a letter to the editor from Marion Wellington.  However to our delight Waitara have become another group member, so we used her letter as their first group news).

Hello from Waitara – remember us?   I’ve just been reading Famnet and am so pleased to hear you are going to be the new assistant Editor.  I'm sure your expertise with Genealogy is just what it needs.

I don't know if you heard on the grapevine that our Waitara Branch NZSG no longer exists.  NZSG weren't happy with us as we "didn't have enough NZSG financial members" - Nor did they think we operated how they wished.

Consequently in 2013/ 2014 they pulled the plug and declined our Branch membership. Members rallied around and found a new "home" for our Library, at a much reduced rental.  We applied to the Charities Commission and were granted our number CC50445 in 2014 - and we are known as the "Waitara Districts History & Family Research Group."

We have a few volunteers who open the rooms three mornings a week (over winter) under the Genealogy eye of Trish SMART.  She is very loyal to our group and is busily working with Genealogy projects.  Although I've semi-retired (what a joke - Genealogists and historians cannot retire) I've helped when I can and at the moment I'm involved with a really good project.

A few months ago an Australian researcher, Peter BAKKER, contacted me regarding WELLINGTON research.  He is tracing the families of Aboriginals who fought in the Boer War for Australia.

He found there were seven, including Keith’s Grandfather’s brother.  Fortunately Keith and I went to Australia 30 years ago and undertook quite a bit of research there as well as getting some of the relatives there interested in their families.

Peter Bakker and another cousin, Mervyn WHITTAKER, ex-pat Taranaki who lives in Victoria, and Winston WELLINGTON from the Waikato, duly arrived in Waitara for a visit and took the opportunity of copying the research material we had.

The point I’m making is that I had kept this material for 30 years never realising it would be useful in 2016.  It certainly pays to keep ones research, notes and paraphernalia.

The Aboriginal line looks interesting and there are findings from other researchers that seem to ally with the Jaadwa apical ancestors.  This shows Arthur Wellington snr.  born 1849 at Brighton Station, Horsham, Wimmera.  (This is Keith's Great-Grandfather)

I’ve copied a letter from Peter BAKKER which you may find of interest for the Newsletter. 

Recently I made a submission to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) for the recognition of seven men of Aboriginal descent that my research had shown to have actively served in the Boer War (1899-1902).  I made this detailed submission under the recommendation of the Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) of the Australian War Memorial, who is keen to have their service recognised and honoured.  He has informed me that my submission has been examined and all seven individuals have been accepted and would be recognised by the AWM. 

On 22nd September, 2016 (To be confirmed), the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, is opening a major exhibition honouring Aboriginals who have served in Australia’s military forces in overseas conflicts.  It will be a significant milestone in Australia’s recognition of Aboriginal servicemen and servicewomen.  For the first time in one of its exhibitions the AWM will be able to identify and provide some information on individual Aboriginal men who served in the Boer War. 

Michael Bell, the Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO), has taken on board my suggestion to invite informants for each of the seven Aboriginal Boer War servicemen to the official opening ceremony of this exhibition.  Please let me know if you are happy for me to pass on your name and contact details to him to do this.  I have emphasised that your names and contact details should not be made public to others.

I am very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition and the possibility of meeting with you and others that I have contacted and befriended through my research.

Kind Regards

Peter Bakker

Researcher - Aboriginal Military History

Ph: 5998 9360

Mob: 0419 970 155


Do hope this is of interest Peter.

Cheers for now,

Marion Wellington


Back to the Top

News and Views

Here I’ve picked up and reprinted a couple of articles from other blogs, and then asked Robert to add his comments.

The Future of Genealogy Software

Warning: this article contains personal opinions.

I recently exchanged email messages with a newsletter reader who is looking for a replacement for his favorite genealogy program, the now-defunct program called The Master Genealogist.  He raised some good points about today’s available genealogy products, and I responded with some of my views and predictions.  I decided to write an article based upon our “conversation” and to also expand our comments as I imagine many newsletter readers also are interested in finding new and (hopefully) better programs.

First, let me write specifically about The Master Genealogist.

The Master Genealogist, usually referred to as TMG, was a very powerful Windows genealogy program.  It had features that appealed to the serious genealogist who wanted a tool to not only record genealogy findings but also to track and manage the entire family history research process.  TMG had an army of strongly dedicated users, most of whom seemed to enjoy wringing every last ounce of productivity out of the program.

Many TMG users are still using the program as it seems to work well on every version of Windows, from Windows XP through Windows 10.  However, most of the users also realize that some day a new version of Windows probably will break some of the features in TMG.  Future use of the program is not guaranteed.  Since the program is no longer supported or updated, a large number of these users are thinking about replacing TMG with something that will hopefully be supported for many more years.

I do not know the finances of Wholly Genes Software, the producers of TMG, but I suspect the company saw declining revenues every year accompanied by either stable or increasing expenses for support and future development.  No company stays in business very long with those opposing factors.  In addition, TMG was written in what has long been an obsolete programming language, so the idea of porting it to a new language or even to new operating systems (Macintosh, Android, iPad, etc.) probably was cost-prohibitive.

While the decision to drop TMG and to close the doors of the company was disappointing to the customers, I imagine the owner of the company had no other choice.

Alternative Genealogy Programs

OK, here is the sad news for present TMG owners: there is no other genealogy program on the market that has the power and the advanced capabilities of The Master Genealogist.  None.

That’s bad news for dedicated TMG users, but it is a fact of life.

There are programs that are better than TMG at various individual tasks, such as searching online databases, better at comparing family trees with distant relatives who have uploaded their family trees to a myriad of web services, better at providing user-friendly interfaces, and perhaps better at a number of other tasks.  Indeed, there are more than a dozen excellent genealogy programs available today for Windows, Macintosh, and other operating systems.

However, I am not aware of any genealogy program available today that matches the power of TMG at recording all facets of the research process, at providing tools for evaluating genealogy evidence, and at a number of tasks that serious genealogists expect.  Maybe there will be such a product someday, but such a product does not exist today.

Other Factors That Affect the Future of Genealogy Software

I read a lot of printed and online computer trade magazines.  Over and over, I have read that the number of desktop computers being sold is dropping rapidly every year.  In addition, depending upon which manufacturer’s report you read, the sales of laptop computers are either holding steady or else are declining slowly every year.

The only laptops that are growing rapidly in numbers are the cloud-based Chromebook laptops that run the Chrome operating system.  The sales of Chromebooks are exploding for a number of reasons: they are very easy to use, very reliable, perform most of the tasks that every-day computer users want, have been widely adopted in the public school systems, and have very low prices.

The Windows 10 and Macintosh OS X operating systems only run on desktop and laptop computers if we ignore the tiny fraction of 1% of the tablet computers that can also run Windows.  Anything less than 1% can safely be ignored; it is not a significant factor.

The bottom line is this: the number of Windows and Macintosh systems being sold is already dropping every year.

This leads to one inescapable conclusion: Windows and the Macintosh OS X operating systems are also slowly dying.  If the only systems that run these operating systems are declining, the operating systems themselves are obviously declining as well.

To be sure, Windows and OS X will not disappear any time soon.  Your present desktop or laptop computer probably will be very useful for a long time yet.  I believe Windows will survive in ever-smaller numbers for at least another decade, especially in the corporate environment.  Businesses seem to love their Windows systems and probably will keep using them for at least another 10 years, perhaps longer.  Sales of Windows systems to in-home users are already declining rapidly and that trend undoubtedly will continue.

I am not as sure about Macintosh OS X.  Apple apparently has already seen “the writing on the wall” and is slowly merging the advantages of OS X and the advantages of mobile iOS systems (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) into one powerful, but future, product.  OS X will probably change radically into something new, perhaps with a new name, and then will continue for a long time.

It seems obvious to me and to many others that the trend is moving to mobile systems, namely iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets and cell phones.  These tiny devices are selling like hot cakes.  In my frequent travels to airports and on board airplanes, I see hundreds of portable computing devices, mostly those running Android or Apple’s iOS operating system.

Next, can you name a single brand-new genealogy program that has been announced for either Windows or Macintosh OS X in recent years? I am not referring to any new, upgraded release of an existing program.  Instead, how many NEW genealogy programs can you think of that have been announced for Windows or Macintosh in the past 2 or 3 years?

NOTE: I can think of a couple, but they also seem to have since disappeared.

RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, Family Historian, Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Maker, Reunion, MacFamilyTree, Heredis, GRAMPS, and other genealogy programs for Windows and/or Macintosh OS X are still being used by millions of people around the world; but, one has to question the future of these programs.  If the number of Windows and Macintosh OS X desktop and laptop computers being sold every year is declining, what is the inevitable result for Windows and Macintosh OS X genealogy programs?

I will suggest that sales of these present programs will slowly decline.

Of course, many of the companies that produce today’s genealogy programs are releasing new versions for Android and/or Apple iOS.  I believe that most of these companies will remain in business and will remain profitable as they adapt to changing marketplace demands.  The growth of genealogy programs appears to be taking place in the mobile marketplace.  Dozens of new Android and Apple iOS genealogy apps have appeared in recent years, some of them produced by companies that have been producing Windows or Macintosh products.

There is one “elephant in the room” that I have not yet mentioned: the cloud.

Cloud-based apps are taking over the world in many areas although apparently not yet in genealogy.

Google Docs seems to be destined to replace Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, WordPerfect, and many other desktop/laptop word processors.  Similar stories seem to be happening for Excel and other spreadsheet programs, for Photoshop, and for many computer games.

If the Windows and Macintosh computers are to slowly disappear, it seems reasonable that the programs for those operating systems will also become less and less popular every year.  OK, perhaps not entirely.  Again, almost all the producers of word processors, spreadsheet programs, photo editing programs, and games are rapidly creating new versions of their programs for Android, iPhone, iPad, and cloud-based operating systems.  Most of them have also developed or are developing cloud-based versions.  I predict that their Windows and Macintosh versions will fade away, but most of the companies will remain in business by selling versions for the newer operating systems and for the cloud.

Let’s examine cloud-based genealogy programs.

Cloud-based genealogy programs are available in two versions:

1.  Many of the huge online database services digitize millions of records and make them available to their customers.  I am thinking of the databases on,,,, and other online services.  While valuable, I will ignore their company-contributed digital records for the remainder of this article.  Instead, I will focus solely on services where individuals can upload their own family tree information for online storage and often for online collaboration with other genealogists.  These are the online services that allow users to build their family trees on the web sites instead of in their personal devices.

2.  In addition, there are only two well developed, state-of-the-art genealogy programs available today for implementation by single users in the cloud: The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (which I will abbreviate to “TNG”) and WebTrees, an open source, free genealogy program.  Both of these programs are great for use by one person, by one family, or by one family association.

For more information about TNG, see

For more information about WebTrees, see

Note: Do not confuse the cloud-based TNG program (The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding) with the now-defunct Windows genealogy program called TMG (The Master Genealogist).  These are two entirely different products, developed for different operating systems by different software developers.  They are unrelated.

There are many advantages to using cloud-based programs, although not all of those advantages are apparent in today’s cloud-based genealogy programs:

1.  Most of these programs can be used with a variety of operating systems— Windows, Macintosh, Linux, Android, iPhone, iPad, Chromebooks, and probably future operating systems that have not yet been invented.  No longer will cousins using different operating systems have difficulty exchanging genealogy data or be restricted to the multiple problems of GEDCOM data transfers.  If everyone is sharing data within cloud-based genealogy programs, everyone will have access to the same data.  The choice of the user’s computer is now unimportant.

2.  The security of cloud-based programs is equal to and often better than that of desktop and laptop computers.  Admittedly, many people do not yet believe that.  Yet today’s security techniques on cloud-based systems are far better at locking out thieves, hackers, and spies than either Windows or Macintosh.

Note: I had a Windows laptop computer stolen from the trunk of my automobile a few years ago.  The thief gained access to all my genealogy information on the laptop’s hard drive, as well as my credit card numbers, my Social Security Number, the name, email addresses, and telephone numbers of hundreds of my relatives and business associates, my checking account information, my investment portfolio, and much more.  Even the simplest cloud-based application has better protection than a stolen laptop computer that has not been encrypted! I spent weeks canceling credit cards and bank accounts and obtaining replacements.  Such problems are rare in today’s strongly-protected cloud-based systems.  Had I been using a cloud-based banking system, cloud-based credit card company access, and other cloud-based services, the thief would have accessed nothing personal.

3.  In cloud-based genealogy services, sharing information theoretically is easier to implement and control than it is with desktop and laptop genealogy programs.

Notice my use of the word “theoretically.” Not all of today’s cloud-based genealogy services have implemented controls for sharing.  However, TNG, WebTrees, and some of the huge online databases intended to be used by thousands of users provide options to keep your genealogy information private, to share it with only a few trusted relatives, or to make it visible to everyone on the World Wide Web.  With many of these services, the user is in control of his or her own privacy.  Be aware that there are exceptions, however.


The future of genealogy software appears to be in programs installed in the cloud, not programs installed in Macintosh or Windows computers.  None of those programs contain the power of either TMG or most of the other Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs in the versions available today.  However, they are improving every year.

Today’s cloud-based genealogy programs have capabilities that approximately match the genealogy programs of the 1990s, plus they are compatible with many operating systems and can support multiple simultaneous users.  Those of us who have been using genealogy programs since the 1990s can report that the available genealogy software has improved greatly since those days.  I am certain that today’s cloud-based genealogy services and even the mobile apps for Android and Apple iOS also will improve at least as much in future years.

The new cloud-based programs will not match the power of the Windows and Macintosh programs this year, probably not next year, and I doubt if they will be as powerful even the year after.  But I anticipate that they will match and even surpass the power of today’s desktop and laptop genealogy programs within a few years.  The genealogy programs of the 1980s and 1990s continually improved to become the powerhouses of today.  I believe history will repeat itself: today’s cloud-based genealogy programs will continually improve to become collaborative services that do far more than anything we have today.

The way I see it, the future of genealogy software is in the cloud.

Who Actually Owns the Family Tree You Have Online?

By: Melanie Mayo | Editor, Family History Daily

Do you host your family tree online? Have you backed up your genealogy files to the cloud? If you said yes to either question, you are certainly not alone.  Many family historians today choose to store their trees on the web.  And there are many benefits to doing so — easy setup, access from anywhere, simple sharing and an assurance that you’ll still have your tree if your computer or tablet were to crash.

But is it really a good idea to place your genealogy data online? Do you know who owns, or has access to, your family’s information once you upload it? Do you know how it will be used in the future?

The truth is, the answer is not a simple one.  Anytime we choose to upload information to a website we are placing our trust in an entity that we do not have control over.  We do not have control over how that information will be protected, used or shared.  This is the case for everything from posts on a forum or social media site, to online banking information and, yes, our family trees.

We assume, or at least hope, that the sites we trust with our information are taking proper precautions to protect our data.  We hope they won’t share it without our permission or use it improperly.  But few of us take the time to read the fine print when we sign up for a website and, even when we do, the legalese can be confusing at best.

Years ago, I chose to backup my GEDCOMs and related data with a fairly popular online service dedicated to that purpose.  I let the service automatically save and upload my files as they were updated.  It was very convenient and my account was 100% private, only for my use…or so I thought.

One day I was doing some research online and came across my own tree.  My private research online! I was shocked.  I had not, at that time, publicly uploaded my tree to any online sharing site, yet there it was, with all of my personally collected records, notes and more.

How had this happened?

After doing some considerable digging I discovered that the backup service I was using was bought out by a large genealogy company and they had taken all of my files and published them online in their databases…and they were charging for the information.  I was horrified.  Not only had I put countless hours of research into private trees that were now available for anyone to access without my permission, but I knew much of the information I had in my trees was not 100% accurate.  Since these trees were works in progress they were never intended to be shared in that way.  I knew which names, dates and details still needed further research — others would not.

I did eventually find a way to have this information removed, but the experience taught me a valuable lesson.  You can never fully trust any company with your information.  Ever!

I do take some responsibility for this breach of privacy.  I assume that somewhere, hidden in some fine print, this company must have informed me that they could use my information this way or, perhaps, somewhere it stated that if they sold their business the privacy rules would change.  I also have to take responsibility for the fact that I made the decision to trust this company.  They provided a service I wanted and I was happy to use it.  Whether I inadvertently signed an agreement that released my data or not, it was ultimately my responsibility to find that out before I uploaded my content.

But I still felt violated.  I felt that the company should have clearly informed me that my tree would be used in this way.  And they never did that.

And this is just my personal story.  I have heard many similar stories from others who were using other online services.  Sometimes the issue came from a user’s lack of understanding of the company’s policies, other times the breaches were just underhanded or stemmed from misleading or confusing terms and conditions.

Do these problems make me want to stop using online genealogy services? No.  They do, however, remind me to be a lot more cautious.  The experience I faced taught me that Ineed to inform myself carefully before uploading my data to any site and that I must hold those sites responsible for any breaches in the promises they make.

And that leads us back to your online family history information, and how much of it you maintain ownership and control over when you choose to place it online.

The answer is not that simple.  Consider these questions:

Where are you storing your tree or online information? Do you know the name of the company that owns that website?

Is the company known for being trustable and accountable? Have they proven this in the past?

Have you read the terms and conditions of the site? Do they make sense to you? Do they state that you maintain ownership over your own data and clearly state how the site can or will use that data?

Does the company give you easy control over your tree and files? Can you edit, protect or remove them at any time?

Do they provide good customer service that will help you if there is a breach to your account, or if you do not understand the terms of their site?

How easy is it to completely remove the data from this source if you decide you want or need to in the future? Do they keep a backup for their own use? Will they delete that too?

What are the company’s policies regarding ownership and privacy if they should be bought my another company?

What kind of data are you uploading? How much of it do you feel like you own?

How much of your data do you have the right to share?

How much of it would you feel comfortable sharing with the public if it were to be released?

This is a lot of questions, but it is imperative that we ask them every time we choose to share our family history data online.  We live in an online world, and that world grows every day.  If we are going to use online services we must be willing to learn about them and take actions to improve them when necessary.

Luckily, I see genealogists doing this all of the time.

Some people, however, will argue that we do not really own our genealogy data and therefore we should always be willing to share it and not concern ourselves with privacy.  They will argue that our genealogy data stemmed from public information and should stay that way.

There is some truth to that, of course.  Most of the records we use on our research are not our own.  Many are in the public domain and/or are accessible to others through various methods.  We also do not own the name, dates and details of our ancestors’ lives.

But we do own the countless hours of research we put into building our trees, digging up details, finding and documenting sources, verifying information, scanning and transcribing records.  The information may not be our own, but the work is.

We may also have information in our tree that is not in the public domain or is sensitive for other reasons.  This may include family photos or stories, or information about living individuals.  It is our job to protect this information, or to share it appropriately only at our own discretion.  We need to know that this information is secure when we place it online.

Bottom of Form

Does this mean we should never upload our family history data? Does it mean we should not share what we have collected with others? Absolutely not.  Sharing is a very important part of genealogy research and we should continue to do it.

But, for the above reasons, we must be cautious and responsible when choosing where and how to share and store our data.  We must take the time to inform ourselves about the sites we choose to use and be willing to ask if we do not understand a policy or require clarification.  We need to hold companies accountable for the information they offer to store.

You might be asking yourself at this stage — how secure is my family tree? Could it be shared without my permission?

We suggest you take the time to understand the policies of the site or sites that host your tree or other data.  Read their terms and conditions and privacy policies carefully (usually you can find a link to these in the footer of a site) and email the company with any questions you may have.  Don’t assume your data is protected just because it has seemed secure in the past or because other people feel safe.

Many sites that host online family trees have fairly detailed online terms that cover a wide variety of content usage rights.  And, generally, these terms also give the site more control and ownership over your data than you may realize.  That doesn’t mean the site is out to trick you or do any harm, but they are out to protect themselves and handling (potentially sensitive) online data requires that they go out of their way to do that., for instance, states in its online terms and conditions:

By submitting User Provided Content on any of the Websites, you grant Ancestry and its Group Companies a perpetual, transferable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty-free, license to host, store, copy, publish, distribute, provide access to create derivative works of, and otherwise use User Provided Content submitted by you to the Websites, to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.  You hereby release Ancestry and its Group Companies from any and all claims, liens, demands, actions or suits in connection with the User Provided Content you submit, including, without limitation, any and all liability for any use or nonuse of your User Provided Content, claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, emotional distress or economic loss.  This license continues even if you stop using the Websites or the Services.  Ancestry may scan, image and/or create an index from the User Provided Content you submit.  In this situation, you grant Ancestry a license to the User Provided Content as described above and Ancestry will own the digital version of documents created by Ancestry as well as any indexed information that Ancestry creates. 

Does that mean that Ancestry owns your family tree if you host one there? It sure sounds like it but, according to them, the answer is no.  They go on to state:

Except for the rights granted in this Agreement, Ancestry acquires no title or ownership rights in or to any User Provided Content you submit and nothing in this Agreement conveys any ownership rights in such User Provided Content on the Websites. 

Confusing? Yes.  They also have a separate Privacy Policy that they recently updated that includes even more information to ponder.

Ancestry is not alone in this.  The terminology they use is pretty standard for any website that stores data and other online genealogy sites that host trees, like FamilySearch and MyHeritage, have similar terms.

So what does it all mean? What should you do to protect your data?

In short…be informed.

1.  Recognize that placing data online always carries some risk, whether from the hosting company or via unauthorized access by those with malicious intent.  As stated above, make sure you know what site you are dealing with and how they protect data.  Look at their record of trust and transparency, read their terms and conditions and ask questions when needed.  Also ask others what their experiences have been with the company.  The more that users look at, and question, how their data is being used, the more likely it is that companies will be truly responsible for the data they host and wholly accountable for their policies and actions.

2.  You also, usually, have some control over how you manage the privacy of your online tree, and the terms and conditions that cover your data may change based on how you choose to set those privacy controls.  Understand the settings available to you and use them in a way that you feel comfortable with.

3.  Be smart about what you share.  Personal information (or photos) of/about living individuals requires extra caution.  If you plan to place this information online, even privately, make sure you have gained the proper permission to do so.

4.  Question your own comfort level.  Are you OK with a company copying your information and storing it? Are you OK with the fact that this information may be stored by them even if you delete it from your account? Are you comfortable with a family history company selling your public data to others as part of its paid packages?

Ask yourself these questions and then proceed however you feel comfortable.  This article is not designed to scare you away from online backups or sharing.  They are both important parts of genealogy research and we can’t hide from them.  We must use them and improve them — and ultimately, we must be willing to take some risk.

But, it is also important to inform yourself and hold the companies you trust responsible for their actions.  This will help ensure a safer, stronger family history network that we can all take part in with confidence now and in the future.

Robert’s Comments

The two articles above raise many interesting ideas, and I agree with both authors.  My purpose here is not so much to add a third article, but to review those already here from the FamNet perspective.

It’s obvious that the Internet has radically changed our hobby.  There have been some losses, but there are also major gains.  I think that Peter is wrong when he deplores a “loss of giving”: most of us have personal experience of being given information from others, and providing our information to them.  What has been lost is the social interaction: we now provide/receive information from people all around the world, many of whom we never meet in person.  We actually get and give a lot more useful information, no longer bounded by the coincidences of meeting people with common interests at a meeting or library.  Google and other search engines are impersonal, but awesomely efficient in finding things that otherwise we’d never know.   Peter juxtaposes a section deploring the loss of social interaction with his delight in being able to find out Irish information from the Internet.  That’s the way the world is going: a vastly improved network of useful connections, but far less depth in each connection.  We have hundreds of Facebook “friends”, but perhaps fewer real ones.

Old-style genealogy societies are failing around the world, especially those who have tried to resist the Internet revolution, but away from the societies more people that ever before are becoming interesting in their family history.  This is because the Internet has made it easier, both to find out the family connections, and to find out information about the world in which our ancestors’ lived.   I suspect that my family is like yours: they’re quite interested in their family history but only up to a point.  Few others of my family are interested enough to research their family tree to search out more ancestors, let alone attend NZSG or similar meetings.  The rest are really pleased to know their history, and they might even add photos and notes, but they won’t push back to earlier generations, or more remote relatives.  Not unless it’s easy.

In this world, what are genealogists to do?  It depends what they’re trying to achieve.  If you intend that your family will consign all your work to a bonfire when they clean up the estate, then keep your research on scraps of paper in a box labelled “To be burnt on my death”.  Most of us want more however.  Personally I hope that what I’m doing is useful, particularly to my family, and I’d like it to continue and be extended by subsequent generations.  I don’t want to see my work lost.  The first requirement then is preservation, for which the key rule is “2 or more copies”.  I advise everybody to use FamNet as “One of the places they keep their family history”.  The other may be a personal copy managed with Legacy, Family Tree Maker, or one of a dozen different family history programs, or it might be a series of paper binders.  Or it might be another genealogy site like Ancestry or FamilySearch.   If you are considering another genealogy site I’d suggest that you prefer those that allow others to see your record but not download your whole database as a GEDCOM: this is a recipe for propagating trees containing obsolete versions of your facts.

My second requirement is that I want it to be useful to my family.  This means that I should be sharing it with them, and I’d like them to be able to contribute to it.  It will come as no surprise to any of our readers that supporting this requirement has been a key feature of FamNet’s design.  To me a family history that only one person can work on is like having a computer that won’t connect to the web – barely useful.  Personally I can’t see the point of developing a family history unless it’s shared with your family.  And a web copy, especially on FamNet, is the most convenient way to do this.


Letters to the Editor

If you want a letter published, just email

Information Wanted/Offered.

Remember that you can post photos for identification, and information wanted requests:-

Click here to post a photo

Click here to request help with some information

We’ll post the photos and information requests in the next newsletter, and they’ll remain on display for at least a year.

Hi Robert,

Back in 2008 you sent out a help call for this guy who had lost all his data in a hard drive crash.  I have stumbled across him via another researcher who had copied some of his data but had not moved to verify it for themselves, so there is no source information for those copied details.  I tried to email kiwiadams on the email you had listed in your posting for him but it is no longer operational.  Do you happen to have an updated contact for him?  He is Graeme Adams and his email was ''


Grant Drummond

Contact The Editor for Grant’s contact details.  Neither of the emails that we have for Graeme Adams works now, his newsletter status is now “No newsletters” (probably because they started bouncing), and we have no other contact details.  Can any reader help?

Back to the Top

Book Reviews

Edward Constable, Settler, Waiuku, New Zealand

by Hazel Holmes

First published in 2015 available from Waiuku Information centre, Waiuku Museum or from the author,

By the age of eighteen Edward Constable had lost his wife and first child.  He leaves his Kentish hometown for London and becomes an apprentice bricklayer, one of the worst jobs at the time.  At twenty-four he embarks on a long and perilous journey in the hope of a better life in New Zealand. 

The anticipation and excitement prior to the journey would soon fade and the enormity of what lay ahead for him and the knowledge that there was no going back would only be realised once he came ashore. 

Edward Constable was one of the first settlers in New Zealand, arriving in 1840 on the Adelaide, the largest of the first five ships sent out from England through The New Zealand Company. 

After a year he departs Wellington for Auckland to purchase land at the first Auckland land sales.  Over the coming years he enters into a number of business ventures.  Eventually he leaves Auckland for Waiuku where he built the historic Kentish Hotel; which still holds the record for the longest serving liquor licence in New Zealand.  The Kentish became the hub of activity for local settlers. 

Edward continues farming and during the 1860s his three flax mills became a crucial source of employment in the district at a time of vast unemployment and poverty.  

Despite the enduring hardships of early colonial life, with determination, hard work and a keen business sense, he established many successful enterprises and as a result he made a notable contribution to the growth of Waiuku and ultimately became known as the ‘Father of Waiuku.’ 

But there was more to discover about Edward’s personal life and his secret love for a woman.  His second marriage was childless, so Edward contrives a reckless plan to accomplish his aim of acquiring an heir - he enters into a bigamous marriage

Hazel Holmes

The Nightingale

by Kristen HannahThe Nightingale by [Hannah, Kristin]

The story starts with two girls, one only a young child, the other a teenager, abandoned by their father when their mother dies who has returned broken from World War I.  The uncertainty of the 1930's give way to war, and a sense of doom steadily intensifies as the Germans invade and occupy France.  The two girls have a difficult relationship and this is tested and changed as life becomes more and more difficult and dangerous.  I'm not going to say more about the plot, but it's enough to say that at times both Mary and I were in tears over this book, and it's one that will stay with us for a long time. 

A gripping story, both of us reached a point in the book where we just had to finish it even if it was 1 - 2 - 3 in the morning, as well as an insight into the atrocious conditions of living under Nazi occupation.  Well worth the $US7.11 it cost me to have this downloaded to my Kindle.

Click here for more information.

Reviewed by Robert Barnes.

In conclusion

A Bit of Light Relief

Image result for family history cartoons

Advertising with FamNet

If your organisation is not a group subscriber then there will be a charge for advertising events and services, which must be paid for before publication.  Charges start at $NZ25 for a basic flier, and increase for more elaborate presentations.  Like everyone else we need funds to help keep FamNet going.  Fees are very minimal.  If your organisation paid a yearly subscription you can have all the advertising you want all year round in the Group News section.  Your group could be anywhere in the world, not just in New Zealand.  The editor will continue to exercise discretion for free events.

To Unsubscribe,  Change your Email Address, or Manage your Personal Information

If you have problems with this page you can email us directly but the page is self-explanatory.

Copyright (Waiver) 

Feel free to redistribute this newsletter.  If you publish a newsletter yourself you may include material from this newsletter in yours provided that you acknowledge its source and include the FamNet URL,

Back to the Top