Ancest4 ™ - Timothy R Conrad's Genealogy Services


Notes for Volunteers

Google Earth Location Overlays - help adding links

Thanks for volunteering to help! Following is my stream-of-consciousness guide for contributing....

Why Google Earth? This seems like a convenient way to share location information. The KMZ format is easy to export and import and users can create their own data groups. For example, I have locations of my ancestors in different groups that I can turn on/off on-the-fly. Google Earth also has terrain which can make more of a difference than township borders. By combining that with churches and links, it's a great new way to do genealogy!

For those that want to get involved, here are more details and the scope of what I'd like to include here. I don't want to have an open-ended project that things get cluttered or lose focus. For now, the project can be thought of as this: A genealogist has an idea of where their ancestor lived. They want to know what records are available and they *may* have accounts on genealogy paid sites. They're not familiar with the township and county borders, but want "close" records using a map. They're probably not familiar with the various name changes that each church/town/etc has gone through.

First, I'd like to keep this limited to SE PA for now. Maybe this can be expanded at some point (I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't become more of a national thing with other people's support). But let's start small. I'm defining SE PA as the counties with western edge is the Susquehanna River, northern edge is Northumberland, Columbia, Lehigh and Northampton.

For the types of records that we post, I'm open to suggestions. In addition to cemetery and church records, I've added newspapers and city directories. I also have an interest in the Philadelphia area, but I think there are too many links for papers and directories here, so that will end up pointing to an external page (perhaps on my ancest4 account). It's best to have links that satisfy this criteria:

  • Location specific (city=yes, county-wide=probably not). The point is to help people find things on a *map*, not catalog all available genealogy information for the state.
  • Useful for genealogy. I've included links to church histories on, but I don't think city histories, etc, are appropriate (perhaps later).
  • Complete - that is, no partial listing of cemeteries or baptisms for just one family.
  • Links likely to be around in 10 years. So it's best to link to things on google books, us genweb archives, etc. Something like is probably going to be gone 6 months from now. If it's good stuff and in the public domain, we should try to get it moved to us genweb, for example.

In order to reduce clutter, we need to limit what goes on the map. Things that I'd prefer to not add:

  • Links to modern church/cemetery web pages (unless those pages have actual historic data like births/deaths/tombstones)
  • Links to information about specific individuals
  • Links to regional histories (including regional church histories)
  • Links to the less popular paid sites (but I'm open on this)

When you're looking at large areas, like county-wide histories, I think the current county genealogy sites are fine and pinning all that data on a map doesn't add any value and it adds clutter. At best, we might want a pin at the county seat back to some other web page. If we add a lot of content to some new area, I'll create a new "group" so that the information can be turned on/off by the user.

For church and cemetery records, my focus is on adding new content beyond what is already on find-a-grave (for now). In particular, if there are books with original typed (and sequenced) tombstones, or family notes (like Dr. Meiser's versions), this is new info that isn't on find-a-grave. People can already bring up the find-a-grave map, so I view duplicating all of that information here as a very low priority, perhaps to make this a one-stop-shopping for data.

For now, I would like to be the one maintaining the kmz file. This is mainly to keep a consistent look-and-feel. All of the map links and info have been manually typed in and if one aren't familiar with html coding, someone would likely start to mess some up and it would be difficult to find and fix them. In order to get updates, I'd like to use this:

To add links to an existing location, send me the county and existing name of the church/cemetery, and the new html link. Along with the link, a brief (2-3 word) description tag. These tags get all merged together on the map tag, so they need to be brief. I honestly haven't gone through all of the links to get better labels, but something like "baptisms" or "burials" or "history would be fine.

To add a new location, send me the coordinates and the name (and usually an html link). If the new location is a church or cemetery, first see if there is a match on find-a-grave. I prefer to have a link to a find-a-grave listing, so if you send me their main cemetery link, I can just use that as a reference, and then add your new content to the same flag. Of course, if it's a church without an adjacent cemetery, I'll need GPS coordinates. To get these, I would recommend adding a thumbtack on your map, then right-click and get properties, and copy/paste the coordinates to me. Alternatively, you can add your locations to a new KMZ file, and send me that (just export your additions, not the whole collection). Lastly, you can always read the coordinates at the bottom of Google Earth and email them to me.

Corrections/improvements. Just send me the recommendation. It can be making a link name more meaningful, tweaking a location, etc. Note that for names, I've been emphasizing the old name(s) that are most often used in genealogy books vs. the modern one. The find-a-grave links often have modern names and variants. Also, I try to include at least one name that is not generic (like Hains or Tulpehocken are too generic and can refer to many churches!)

Recommended additions:

I have some of the US Genweb content already (so check), but I just didn't get it all mapped and I could use help with that. In some cases, I didn't know where the church/cemetery was, so I skipped those on my first pass. Note, we only want the *complete* stuff.

Did you know that google had started to scan and make available tons of old newspapers? But the businesses that were selling access to old newspapers complained (sued?) and google gave in and stopped. However, they do have several that were already scanned, but they made it much harder to find them (!!). I haven't looked at these yet, but maybe we can find and add links to them. I think there are more than the link above shows. Update: I found this great site here (not too many SE papers except Philadelphia though), but it does have the Reading papers, for example. Check this link.

Note that has a lot of church/cemetery specific databases, but they are not always fully indexed. Some are original records, and in particular, scans from the PA Historical Society. In many cases, baptismal sponsors are not indexed and in other cases, huge parts of the church books are not indexed. But researchers don't know they exist. Some of these are indexed in pretty dumb ways, so it just says that "person x was involved in an event at this church on this date". Oh well, the quality is very inconsistent. But I'm trying to add links to all of them.

When I say "church" above, of course it can be a "temple", "synagogue", etc.

You may have noticed my (inconsistent) conventions. Here's the current strategy and I can use help with making new ones. It might be more useful to create new JPG/PNG files with little churches, etc. and have a more rigorous system later. I just used what Google Earth already had.

  • church have thumbtack
  • cemetery-only gets a star-flag
  • historically German-speaking religions gets pink
  • historically English-speaking religions get blue
  • others get some other color (not sure how many we'll need)
  • newspapers and directories get different symbols

When doing research, it helps to know if you're looking for people in English vs. German churches. Realize that they all speak English now (except for old-order churches). We can add other icons as needed. Here is the list currently being used.

Cemeteries (only):

  • g1Lutheran, Reformed, UCC, Union, and variants
  • g1German (other): Mennonite, Amish, Schwenkfelder, etc
  • g1Catholic
  • g1Friends/Quakers (there are substantial numbers in SE PA to warrant a color)
  • g1Protestant (other)
  • g1Jewish
  • g1Other/Non-denominational


  • g1Lutheran, Reformed, UCC, Union, and variants
  • g1German (other): Mennonite, Amish, Schwenkfelder, etc
  • g1Catholic
  • g1Friends/Quakers (there are substantial numbers in SE PA to warrant a color)
  • g1Protestant (other)
  • g1Jewish


  • g1Pastoral Record (ie, traveling minister)
  • g1Newspaper

Icon sources....

Google Earth Location Overlays - help updating locations

If you live in the area and can help out, I have found several cases where there are references to small cemeteries where it's not documented exactly where they are. This is a shame and I'm worried we could lose that information forever. I've marked where I'm uncertain where a cemetery is located. Some of the small cemeteries in the Northumberland County Historic Preservation book were shown by big dots on a county map, and of the ones that I did find, their location was way off (!!). I'm thinking that the locals in the area probably know where these are and we could improve the location tags. If you're planning to go track one of these down, first contact me via email/FB and I'll give you whatever information I had to get the approximate location.

For cemeteries, I'm relying on the granularity that find-a-grave uses. Sometimes they have two listings for cemeteries that have old/new sections and sometimes they're together. Also, the mapping between cemeteries and churches varies as churches split and merge. I'm limiting the links as best as I can to avoid confusion and clutter. My goal is not to tag each church building and cemetery separately (which would just add clutter to the map without much benefit).

Help Creating Township Maps

Are you good at finding or making maps? I would like to get some maps that show the township boundaries, especially for the tax lists pre-1800 (when people rely on tax lists in lieu of census records). For example, the townships of East District and West District in Berks County were cut up and merged, making it difficult to find where your ancestor lived.

Note, I don't want a map that just lists the current townships and when they formed. We need actual maps at the county level with township boundaries that reflect specific years (eg, 1785) that I can make an overlay and then people can click on/off the different maps to see the boundaries in a very simple manner. I did a quick google check and couldn't find them. Note that we don't want something approximate either - if they took pieces of a township, we need to find the original border (or at least something very close to it). If you can find the boundaries, but aren't good at drawing in photoshop, let me know and either I'll do it (or someone else could volunteer for the drawings). I can create the overlays pretty quickly.


If you want to reserve some project (so nobody else takes it), let me know and I'll add you to the list below. If you sign up and then can actually get to it, let me know and I'll remove your name (no hard feelings! this is all just volunteer work).

Name Reserved Activity
TimCreate New Custom Map Icons (done 10/19/15)
TimCreate Berks 1781 overlay map (done 10/20/15)
TimCreate Berks 1790 overlay map
TimCreate Schuylkill 1830 overlay map (done 10/21/15)
TimCreate Northumberland 1852 overlay map (done 10/22/15)
TimRev Stoever locations (done 10/31/15)
TimRev Schumacher locations (done 10/31/15)


Shout out of thanks to:

  • Tara D - Northumberland review and fixes