Family History

While You’re at Home. . .

COVID-19 has interrupted the normal flow of our lives. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to all who are being affected, and to all who are suffering. And our deep thanks go to all who are helping the situation. Meanwhile, if you’re struggling to keep busy while practicing social distancing, try this!

Create your family tree online

Don’t have an online family tree? FamilySearch can help–for free.’s Family Tree offers significant global genealogy resources at a price anyone can afford: free!* Don’t have a tree there yet? Follow the link to get started! Family Search’s collaborative tree allows users who are related to labor together in sorting out their ancestors. Just enter info for yourself and your ancestors to get started. is a premium genealogy service that allows you to begin your tree with a free trial (stipulations apply). While they want to get you on the hook for a subscription, they do offer powerful genealogy tools, records, and resources. Click here to sign up and get a two-week free trial (credit card info required). Sites such as and (currently geared more toward pedigrees in continental Europe), and (currently geared more toward the U.K.) also offer free trial options. 

FamilySearch “Recommended Tasks”

If you have a family tree on, consider having a look at “Recommended Tasks” (FamilySearch web version), “Ancestors With Tasks” (FamilySearch Android app), or “Tasks” (on Apple). (Click here for links to FamilySearch apps.) The tasks utilities with FamilySearch identify individuals in your tree with possible record matches, data issues/errors, possible missing children, and more. However, take caution! Not every suggested record is a match!

(Where to find “Recommended Tasks,”, accessed on 20 March 2020.)

FamilySearch Indexing

As a non-profit organization, largely relies on average Joes like you and me to make records accessible! Are you a beginner? No problem! After filling in your own family tree (and being cooped up at home is a great time to reach out to relatives in your effort), indexing is a wonderful way to pay forward the family history karma. By deciphering old often hand-written records (graded by language and record difficulty), you may help others discover their heritage! And, meanwhile, your own skills in deciphering old records increase! It’s a win-win. 

(How to find an indexing project, image courtesy of, 20 March 2020)

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Let inspiration guide you! Your ancestors are out there, and they’re closer than you think.

Bryce H. Rogers is a professional genealogist and co-owner of Lost Generations Genealogy. He lives in Malad City, Idaho, with the love of his life, Liz, and their seven children.

*Lost Generations Genealogy is not affiliated with or Opinions offered are those of the author and are given for the intent of assisting individuals in their search for their ancestors. Click here to learn more about Family Search’s mission.

Your Facebook After You Pass On

Facebook let’s you decide how your account will be handled after you pass away.

Did you know . . .

Facebook lets you decide what will happen to your account when you pass away.

Go to your Facebook “Settings” and you will find your “Memorialization Settings.” You may choose a “Legacy Contact”–a friend who will become the steward of your page when you pass on.

It’s interesting to consider how Facebook may be used as a family history resource in the future.
#facebook #deathisnottheend…

South Africa to Germany

We recently traced a client’s ancestor from Orange Free State, South Africa, back to Germany. And, we discovered a secret in the process: he was Jewish!

The client found us on facebook and reached out via our contact form at We started with details, letters, and photos she provided or had posted to the world family tree at and to her tree at Using the digitized Hanover, Germany, city directories and through correspondence with the city offices and city archives of Hanover, Germany, we learned details about the ancestor’s brother.

We searched first in the Lutheran Church records of Hanover with no relevant results. As we gathered more information and received a response from the City of Hanover, we learned of a city where the ancestor was likely born. But, searches in the christening, marriage, and death records of the Lutheran church there turned up nothing. Then, the inspiration hit.

Though the ancestor’s children were all christened in a reformed Lutheran church in South Africa, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren had heard stories that the ancestor might have been Jewish. (It eventually came out that there was one document in their possession–a POW record from the Anlgo-Boer War–that indicated that the ancestor was Jewish.) The stories. The surname. The dearth of mentions in Christian records.

With these realizations, I went directly to a popular European family tree site,, and searched the surname, and the hometown we had gleaned through correspondence with Germany. And, there it was:

  • a tree with the names of the ancestor’s parents with appropriate ages
  • a son named Moritz–the same name of one who sponsored the ancestor’s child at a christening in South Africa, and he was of the right age to be the ancestor’s brother
  • all in the city where we believed the ancestor was from

One last search by our correspondent at the world-famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City sealed the deal. In a book about the Jews of that city, there they were: the brother whose records led us to the hometown, the ancestor with a matching name and birth date, parents with the names listed on the ancestor’s death record, a brother named Moritz, as well as four more siblings! The moment was thrilling and the client was over the moon. For years, she desired to know more about her great-grandfather’s family–his ancestors. Now, the day had come. (Days like these that remind us why we’re in the genealogy business!)

If you want to learn more about your ancestors, start your tree for free at To learn more about Lost Generations Genealogy and our Professional Genealogy Research Services visit our website,, or find us on Facebook at

About the author: Bryce H. Rogers holds a B.A. in Family History–Genealogy and German Studies from Brigham Young University. He has been a professional genealogist since his genealogy research internship in continental Europe in 2005. He is a father of seven, husband of one and lives in the Southern Idaho, USA metropolis of Malad City, population 2,104.

Transcribing Old Documents: A Stroke of Inspiration

I was wrestling with a hard-to-read German baptismal entry the other and was hit with a stroke of inspiration.

“Compare the difficult entry to the easier [non-difficult hand] entry you just transcribed.” I acted on the inspiration and, voila! The “official” language in the difficult entry and the “official” language in the (for me) easy-to-read entry were almost identical!!! Of course the details about the people involved were different, but the standard, boilerplate language was almost exactly the same!

When transcribing a difficult entry from a church book or civil registry record, knowing what the entry usually says, or what it is “supposed” to say is half the battle!!! Two parishes 10-15 miles apart used the same specific wording and format in their christening entries. Almost like filling out a form, though handwriting styles were very different, both scribes used the same verbiage to describe similar events.

Believe it or not, these two entries say almost the exact same thing!

(fig. 1, German baptismal entry, more difficult hand)
(fig. 2, German Baptismal entry, very neat hand)

So, when in doubt, compare to an easier to read entry!

Bryce H. Rogers

Bryce H. Rogers is an Owner and Professional Genealogist at Lost Generations Genealogy. He enjoys life with his wife and business partner Liz and their housefull of children.

My Czech Research Odyssey

When I was sixteen, I became interested in genealogy. Where my path has led since has been quite the trip.

By Bryce H. Rogers, BA, Professional Genealogy Researcher

I am a Mormon. When I was about sixteen (ca. 1995-1996), I became interested in family history research (see Why Mormons do Family History). I walked into my local FamilySearch Family History Center and told them I wanted to learn more about my Czech great-grandmother and her family. All of the gray-haired people asked, “how old are you?” They couldn’t believe that a sixteen-year-old boy wanted to do learn about his family history!

We found what we could during a that visit–a few details that had been compiled by other family members. The Family History Center staff suggested I talk to my family to try to find out more information, so I did! I had the good fortune of living a few miles from my grandmother, whose mother had immigrated from Bohemian Austria-Hungary (later known as Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic). My conversation with Grandma didn’t seem particularly encouraging! “My brother was over there and they said that many records were destroyed during communism.” That seemed to be that, but I didn’t give up hope!

A decade later, I found myself in the Statni Oblastni Archiv in Prague 4. I was a student in the BYU Family History–Genealogy bachelor’s degree program. I had completed a genealogy internship in Central Europe, but had not had not yet had the chance to search for my ancestors in records housed at this archive in Prague. However, armed with the little information I could find about my Czech ancestors, I pressed forward.

As a student in the fall of 2004, I had been invited by Dr. Roger P. Minert to participate in a European genealogy internship. I had lived abroad in Germany in 1998-2000, was fluent in German, and was learning and practicing deciphering the old German scripts. I was teamed up three other wonderful students of the Family History degree program. Together, we were to spend three weeks extracting information from Orphan Records at the German National Archive branch in Hanover, Germany, and three weeks traveling through central Europe with Dr. Minert, becoming oriented at numerous archives, civil registry and parish offices, executing research for clients, and delivering lectures at a family history conference in Nuremberg, Germany. The trip was wonderful, and on the whole, very successful. We leveraged our skills, worked as a team, and benefited from Dr. Minert’s tutelage.

During our planning phase, it was determined that we would not have time to pause and research my Czech ancestors! So, I did what anyone would do! At the end of our journey, I rented a car in Munich, Germany, waved goodbye to my friends, and followed the Autobahn back to Prague!

And there I was. In 2004, after one of Dr. George Ryskamp’s lectures about professional paths in family history, a question came to my mind: “I wonder what might be able to tell me about my Czech ancestor, Antonin Frantisek Voracek?” I went to the computer at the front of the classroom, dialed up, and entered the details I knew about Anton. What I found surprised and thrilled me. There he was, with his wife Marie, daughter Marie and son Anton. They were arriving at Baltimore from the port of Bremen on the ship Neckar. And, what was this? The home address of the closest relative from whence they came? And birthplaces for each person too? It was too good to be true, but there it was, staring at me. I then began to truly appreciate having an ancestor who immigrated after the turn of the century when very useful details began to be recorded for immigrants.

I had gone to my ancestral village of Kacice that Saturday we had spent in Prague together. While my friends went to enjoy old Prague, I had something else in mind. I went to the village and home address written on that 1913 ship manifest. But alas! When I got to Kacice, I realized I had left my backpack in the parking garage of the Prague Villa where we were staying! Without a Czech phrasebook, a pedigree chart, or even a decent piece of paper to sketch a family tree, I wrote on the back of a grocery receipt and used my very limited Czech vocabulary to try to explain who I was and why I was in Kacice. None of the locals seemed to know anyone by the name of Voracek (though years later, using I would discover a Voracek connection in Europe). A little disappointed, I nevertheless relished the fact that I was there–there where my ancestors had lived. There, where they bid farewell, for ever, to their loved ones. There, where they left home and hearth in search of a better life. (to be continued)