Monday, June 20, 2022

Genealogy: Family History Center


Family History

Seminole | Largo | Clearwater
Salk Lake City, UT

I had a delightful visit to the Family History Center here in Pinellas County, Florida. The Center's entrance is located in the back of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS") in Seminole/Largo Florida.

There are Family History Centers scattered throughout the World. Check to see if there is one near you! ( Find a Family History Center and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries )

I learned a lot from the hour I spent with a volunteer (Larry). Larry is not a member of the church, but does volunteer his time and experience at the center. I want to share what I learned that day:

Resources at the Family History Center

The Center has over a dozen PCs available for use by genealogists. They are linked directly to databases through the library in Salt Lake City. This provides free access to several premium websites that are sponsored by LDS.

Larry uses the worldwide tree at to organize and publish his research. He has uploaded pictures and stories about his ancestors, especially his father. I really like the work he has done. This is a great place for his family to learn about their ancestors.

Larry did that to demonstrate to me the resources that are available there! Along the way, he made these points:
  • Genealogists can visit the FamilySearch website from any computer, tablet or cell phone anywhere in the world. We just happened to access it from the Center.
  • To explore the worldwide tree, visitors must have an account 
    • The account is free. I did not think it was particularly invasive about the information it collects: first & last names and date of birth.
    • I created my personal account years ago.
  • Once logged in, the visitor can create an entry point to the worldwide tree that starts with themselves
  • Visitors can enter their parents' names, and the website search engine will connect the rest of the worldwide the point of the first deceased ancestor
  • Anyone can see any other person that is deceased.
  • No one can see information about a person who is alive unless you entered the record.
  • The worldwide tree is collaborative, and you are encouraged to discuss anything anyone else added to your tree. FamilySearch does have a super-administrator that can be contacted to arbitrate disagreements.

Brick Walls, Rabbit Holes,
and Bright Shiney Objects (BSOs)

Genealogists are familiar with the terms "brick wall" and "rabbit hole."

I named one of my personal brick walls. Larry and I then went down a rabbit hole. 😃

Larry explained that the FamilySearch website has a robust search engine. The information you provide will give it hooks for the search. The more information, the more hooks!

The website will accept approximate dates (with the caveat"abt") and peek at a few years before and a few years after your entry. It will also allow you to indicate that a person is deceased without providing a date.

Larry has written his list of suggestions to create dates for the FamilySearch search engine. He makes copies available at the Center. With his permission, I have included it below:

Family Tree
Genealogy Rule of Thumb
by Larry Nerge

Estimates & Assumptions:

  • When building your tree, always add a birthdate and marriage date, even if unknown 
  • Use "about" in front of year when estimating
  • Assume wife is 3 years young than husband and 20 years old for 1st marriage
  • If wife's maiden name is not known, use "unknown"
  • Add wife's married name as an alternative name
  • First child will be born 1 ear after marriage
  • Each subsequent child will be born at 2-year intervals
  • Children will have surname of thater, Unells step or foster
  • Deceased if over 110 years - use "deceased" if death date not known

Common Sense Validation Criteria:

  • Women over 50 will not give birth
  • Allow at least 6 months between births
  • Woman should be at least 16 years old when married
  • Unlikely child's parents are younger than 12
  • Only one spouse at a time
  • Birth must occur before Christening/Baby Baptism
  • Death must occur before burial

An Example...

Next, Larry worked through an example showing how information could be extracted, then entered into the Family Search family tree:

Given: Heinrich Wille was born in 1900. His parents were Fredrich and Mary Wille, and he had a sister named Sara. Based on that little bit of information, we can add four people to our tree, with approximate dates for most of the entries:

  • Heinrich himself
    • Birth: 1900 (already known)
    • Death: unknown, but we can assume he is deceased because his birthday was more than 110 years ago
  • Parents
    • Marriage
      • Abt 1899 - One year before Henrich was born
    • Mother: Mary Unknown
      • Birth  Abt1879 - She was 20 years old when she married (1899-20)
      • Death "deceased" - she was born more than 110 years ago
      • Gender Male
      • Alternate names: Mary Wille
    • Father: Friedrich Wille (already known)
      • Birth: Abt 1876 - He was 3 years older than his wife
      • Death "deceased" - he was born more than 110 years ago
      • Gender Female
      • Alternate names: Fred Wille
    • Sibling: Sarah Wille
      • Birth 1902 - assumed 2 years after Heinrich
      • Death "deceased" - born more than 110 years ago
      • Gender Female
Notice that we work backward to calculate dates. We would then add the new people from our notes, starting with the father, then his mother and sibling.

Rick's Brick Wall

Finally, we were off to explore my own challenge.

We logged in with my account. I said that my maternal great-grandfather was one brick wall. 

Larry pointed out the blanks in my information. He helped me add more dates. I had my laptop open with more data that I had not yet entered into FamilySearch. We added that, too.

I really enjoyed watching another researcher go through the tree, use available resources, and draw conclusions.

...then the Center's closing time arrived! 😒

[Bottom Line: We were ultimately unsuccessful.]


The Family History Center is a great resource! The staff is knowledgeable and focused on helping people.

FamilySearch-dot-org is a great place to put information about your ancestors. I like that it is a single, worldwide tree. It is a collaborative project. I can contribute to it, and I can see what other people add along with their thought processes, conclusions, and documentation.


This Family History Center is run by LDS. It is a local branch of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here are links for your convenience:
  • Family History Center - Seminole FL
    • 9001 106th Avenue, Largo Florida 
    • Hours: Tuesday: 10-6; Thursday: 10-9; Saturday: 10-4 | Closed Holidays
    • The Center does not have a direct phone number, but can be reached via email:
  • Family History Library - Salt Lake City UT
  • Family Search Website - LDS Genealogy Website

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