My First Steps with GenDetective

Recently, I have purchased several genealogy software programs that don’t seem to have as wide an audience as some programs because two of them are a bit more specialized in their focus and the third is much more widely used in Europe.

NOTE: Any posts that I write talking about these programs should not to be considered as endorsements. No live links are being provided for them, nor is any pricing information included. Please do not consider my posts as a positive or negative recommendation of any kind. I am simply sharing some of my experiences with these programs as I learn how to use them.

The first program I will talk about is GenDetective, which is a software program that imports a GEDCOM, analyzes the information in it and then produces a recommendation report, I guess it would be called, to help guide future research.

To keep the focus on the programs instead of the ancestors, I will use my 5x great grandfather, Anders Molin, as the subject in each of my posts.

A super quick synopsis of Anders is that he was born in 1740 in Ystad, Skane, Sweden. His parents are Nils Molin and Helena Andersdotter. Anders married Sara Brita Krook in 1776 in Veberod, Skane, Sweden. They had four sons together, but only two survived to adulthood – Hans Nicholas (my line) and Johan Peter.

Anders Molin became my brick wall when I discovered that he and Sara divorced, or at the very least separated, about 1785. Anders appears on the 1785 and 1786 tax lists for Marstrand, Sweden, which is hundreds of miles away from where the family had been living. Sara went on to give birth to three more sons, noted as illegitimate, in 1786, 1791 and 1798. Sara died in Andrarum, Skane, Sweden in 1812. Her estate administration mentioned her sons, but the economic value was little.

Most Swedish vital records are not indexed so I am in the midst of reading probate records for 200+ probate courts in Sweden, hoping to locate Anders’ estate records. It is likely that his death would have triggered a probate review because he was a master mason, so had some social and economic status. I would think that his tools alone, as a master mason and a teacher, would have value.

Back to GenDetective – When I opened GenDetective, I chose Anders Molin as the subject of the report to be generated. I’ve cropped the bottom, which lists my name and phone number, and haven’t included a screen shot of the second page of the report, which only says that Anders died after 1786, probably in Sweden and again lists my contact information.

Here is what the report looks like:

Anders Molin
GenDetective Report

First, if you look closely at some of the place names, like Skåne County, they appear odd because the program apparently doesn’t recognize foreign alphabet letters. That isn’t a concern for me right now, but I did submit that as a suggestion for future versions of GenDetective.

Aside from the lettering, there are two other issues with this report that concern me. I have entered Anders’ birth date, which was 17 March 1740. When I first entered it in Family Tree Maker, which is what I used to generate the GEDCOM for GenDetective, I had to adjust the date to 1739/40 because it falls into that strange time period in U.S. colonial history when double dating was used. I wonder if that is why the box in the section above has no check mark to note the inclusion of a birth date?

It also doesn’t have the “occupation” or “religion” boxes checked. I know he was a master mason and I have that in my notes. I also know that he belonged to the standard Swedish Lutheran Church, but how do I get those facts to appear in this report? They obviously must have to be entered in Family Tree Maker, as custom facts.

My third concern is that it says there are no attached media sources for any of the people in this report. That isn’t true, as Anders alone has 15 images attached. I don’t know why they aren’t being seen by GenDetective.

You might also note that it says no sources are attached. That is true, as I don’t use source templates in Family Tree Maker. Instead, I cite my sources in my notes. It’s just personal preference on my part, I guess, and a throwback to the old days of bibliography pages at the back of school reports.

I’ve mentally noted several things:

1. To make full use of this program, using source templates in the original genealogy software program would be a good thing. The report would then show sources cited and might give me further direction.

2. What I call the second section of the report, the sections where the relationship is shown and where the ticked boxes are, seems to be the meat of the report. Items like occupation and religion need to be entered as custom facts in the original software program so GenDetective will produce a more complete report.

3. I contacted tech support for GenDetective to ask the above questions. Sandy replied and asked if I would share my GEDCOM so issues could be reviewed, which I gladly sent off. More on those results in a later post.

Aside from the missing media images and missing data in customized fields, this report indicates that my focus should be directed towards finding Anders’ death date and burial information, which is what I’m doing. I’m a very organized person, so I’m  not sure that creating this report added anything to my research plans for Anders.

Future posts (beginning next week) will talk about some of the general features in GenDetective and other ways the program can be used. Remember, I am not reviewing or recommending this program, I am sharing my limited experiences with it in the hopes of getting some reader feedback from you. Please leave comments if you use GenDetective.

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