Stefani Elkort Twyford

Welcome to my Blog. I don’t think you ever get to the end of genealogy. Plenty of brick walls present themselves and the goal of any researcher’s work is to, brick by brick, tear down those walls and find the records and details that allow you to create a picture of who your family was and what kind of life they lived before you came along.

Like any genealogist, I wish I got the bug for this when all my grandparents were alive and I could have asked them the questions that nobody has the answers to now.  I see that sentence written over and over again on all the web pages and genealogy social media groups I am on. It’s the common grievance of all genealogists, yet serves as the driving force to keep us searching. For perhaps that next document will have some little clue beyond just a date and location.

I hope you will find my missives on this genealogical journey entertaining and enlightening.

May 1, 2019

Scanning My Family Photos Now That I Am A Genealogist

Around 10 years ago, I scanned all of my parents’ photographs for them. It was a huge project which I did at my dad’s request. My company Legacy Multimedia was beginning to do some archival projects and I wanted to do this for my parents but also as a way of experimenting with different scanning and archiving techniques as I worked out a process for clients. And I did it all wrong. I’m not going to go into the list of mistakes that I made but there were many. Over time, I organized and re-organized the structure of the archive and at one point, had one of my employees work on it for a few weeks; sorting out duplicates, and breaking up some photos that were in large page scans. What I meant to do was to sit down and finally get everything sorted out correctly, re-scan the badly scanned […]
April 17, 2019

So You Took a DNA Test, Now What?

I’ve been doing family genealogy for a long time but have only dug into the DNA aspect of it a couple of years ago. During these years, I’ve learned about chromosomes, centimorgans, MtDNA, Y-DNA, autosomal DNA, triangulation, phasing and some other aspects of testing. I’ve learned a lot. But what I want to share with you falls more into the category of DNA etiquette. It WILL help you find descendants of your ancestors by making it easier for others to figure out how they might be related to you and make contacting you easier. I have spent a fair amount of time looking for my own descendants of ancestors as well as helping others learn about their matches. And over time, what I have learned is that most people are not making it easy to connect. It’s okay if you don’t know anything, and it’s important to tell people that […]
October 15, 2018

And Yes, I Do Need Money

Like any hobby or passion, there can be enormous expenses involved in it’s pursuit. I have paid for numerous DNA tests so that I can build a base of “known cousins” in order to find and match lost branches. I have paid for books, monthly fees to records databases, hosting and building this website, etc. I don’t expect any compensation for this and I guess I am grateful my hobby has a reasonable financial outlay compared to something like collecting Faberge eggs, mountain climbing in the Himalayas or other exotic pursuits. What I do want to share with you, and hopefully enroll your support in, is a new project I just started. Eager to find information about my mysterious grandfather Harry Spiel and his brother Morris, I’ve setup a project through JewishGen.org to transliterate the 14 documents I have so far received from a Ukrainian archive after purchasing them a […]
October 10, 2018

Not All Your Cousins Are Happy to Hear From You

When I first started doing DNA testing and connecting the dots of my new cousins I had visions of the kind of family reunions you read about in Women’s Day. 100 people with matching family T-shirts grilling hot dogs and eating watermelon in a big park somewhere. Bulletin boards cluttered with family photos and three-legged sack races. Well, it didn’t take long to peel the rose-colored layer off my glasses. Not everyone was happy to hear from me. Many people with strong DNA matches never responded to  my inquiries. I guess it’s a “thing” to get your DNA tested and see what percentage of you is Irish, never mind actually following up on who you might be related to. After sending an email to a second cousin who it took me months to locate, his wife told him that my email was spam and that I was probably looking for […]