Great-Grandfather Leland Hugh DeGraaf, Sr.

I have started a new family tree at Ancestry.com .  This next series of blog posts may appear to be an advertisement for Ancestry.com, but the website is truly an amazing technology.  The site is especially helpful for the beginning genealogist whose ancestors lived far away from any local records repositories.  My closest ancestors lived 400 plus miles away of where I live now.

Starting a family tree is simple.  Ancestry.com guides you step by step starting with yourself followed by adding your parents.  You then add your grandparents and any information that you know such as birth, marriage, and death dates (ask family members what they know too!).   All this information is not necessary, but the more you add the better chances of Ancestry adding “leaves” next to your family members’ names.  “Leaves” are “hints”, as Ancestry calls them, which (according to Ancestry’s search engine) have the highest probability of matching  a particular ancestor.

I have been lucky enough to receive some information about the DeGraaf line of my family.  My Great-Grandfather corresponded with his cousin, Henry DeGraaf Cochrane, about their family history through letter writing in the 1930′s and ’40s.  Three of these letters I have copies of which include many birth, death, and marriage dates of my DeGraaf line.

I will begin sharing my family tree with the great-grandparents.  For privacy reasons, I will not include  the grandparents generation and other living family.  Below is the Pedigree view of the Family Tree at Ancestry.com. shown after I entered the name, Leland Hugh DeGraaf , Sr. (great-grandfather), and his birth year.  Notice the green leaf and “4 Ancestry Hints” appear after adding these two fields for him.

Clicking on “4 Ancestry Hints” leads to the hint list page for Leland

Here I select "Attach Hint" for the Social Security Death Index Record

Notice on the left pane there is now a complete birthday (12 Jan), death month and year (Jul 1966), and death place (Saint Petersburg, Pinellas (county), Florida, USA).  Adding a check-mark in the appropriate box syncs the information to Leland’s profile (right pane, #1 and #2).

For the next step and demonstration , I return to the hint list and click on the actual record; “World War I Draft Registration Cards”:

The record page opens

Clicking on the image or clicking “View Image”

opens up the record image:

Here the birth year (1888) conflicts with the dates in my notes and recorded in the Social Security Death Index (1886).

Of special interest to me on this record is Great-Grandfather DeGraaf’s signature and being able to see he had blue eyes, brown hair, and was medium height; all the same as me.  I am not able to distinguish if the card was filled out by Leland or the registrar.  Are there any handwriting experts reading this who can help?

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