Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Demise of Genealogical Societies

This article is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position in a genealogical society. It is worth reading the comments after the post as I can't say anything else better myself. 'Anonymous' adds many salient points. http://genealogyalacarte.ca/?p=25650&fbclid=IwAR2ZzsS_Q7V13YtVMcwOsx8PyMI5ddbL_1XSyQxYLpcsEAwEnOYwrH5hTlo

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ancestry DNA Update

September 13, 2018 was a day of days for those who took an Ancestry DNA test. Ancestry issued a major update that changed my results and from what I've read on Facebook those of many others. Here are my old results

Great Britain
Iberian Peninsula
Europe West
European Jewish
Europe East
Africa North

Here are my updated results

Here are the differences between the two

England, Wales & Northwestern Europe78%
Increased by 38%
Ireland and Scotland14%
Decreased by 19%
Germanic Europe5%
Refined from:
Europe West 4%
Refined from:
Scandinavia 10%
Benin/Togo NEW1%
Refined from:
Europe West 4%


Central Appalachia Settlers
Southern West Virginia Settlers
Southwestern West Virginia Settlers

No Longer in Estimate 

 Iberian Peninsula 10%
 European Jewish 1%
 Europe East <1%
 Africa North <1%

For me, these new results better match my genealogy paperwork. My father took the Ancestry DNA and his results were in only two categories in the update: England, Wales, & Northwestern Europe and Ireland and Scotland. Therefore, the rest of my DNA results came from my mother.

My maternal third great grandparents, surname Geatty, immigrated from Germany about 1836. Another maternal third great grandparent set, surname Stauder, immigrated from France about 1853. Franklin Stauder was from France. However, his wife Catherine Aust is listed in the 1880 U S Census as being from Bavaria, part of Germanic Europe. Even though Catherine was listed in both the 1860 and 1870 U S Census as being from France, her being from Bavaria better matches my DNA results.

Benin/Togo makes more sense than Northern Africa. Other DNA testing companies had my African heritage as western Africa, Sub Saharan, or Nigeria. But who is my African ancestor? I'm leaning toward Mary Ann Pinkley who married Jeremiah Basye. I've never found any documentation of their marriage outside my own family records. They lived in Hampshire County, Virginia, known for having interracial couples as I discovered watching the show "Finding Your Roots" https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2014/grad-student-finley-found-her-roots----and-more.php  Their son Benjamin married Sarah Carmichael in Albany, New York and then they lived in Canada for about ten years before moving to Ohio. The marriage was an elopement, via family records, and Sarah doesn't appear in her father's will.

Iberian peninsula made no sense to me before. I could find no ancestor from Spain or Portugal on either side of my family. The Both European Jewish and Eastern European are now gone, which were of interest since I had lumped those with my German ancestry. I can now concentrate on other areas of research.

I'm stumped about Sweden. I've found ancestors from Switzerland, i.e. Shively, but that goes under Germanic Europe. More research.

DNA is an ongoing science and I'm expecting even more illuminating results in the future.

Monday, September 10, 2018

DNA and Lineage Societies

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is now using DNA to help women obtain membership in the organization. Today they claim to be all about inclusiveness, not like the days of yore when DAR wouldn't allow Marian Anderson to sing for an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marian_Anderson  A highly publicized example of this is Reisha Raney, the first African American Maryland state DAR officer.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/10/first-black-woman-officer-dar/772423002/  DNA has been used to help women of African descent obtain membership in DAR, but what about other lineage societies?

A woman asked a lineage society on Facebook about racial inclusiveness and what was required of her ancestor to obtain membership. For several days no one would answer her directly. Then someone posted all the requirements. The woman then said the organization didn't seem inclusive to her and that she was no longer interested in trying to join. Later she softened her stance and was interested in trying to join. Soon after that the woman was removed from the group in addition to the post containing the ancestor requirements to join. This lineage society does not accept DNA.

New lineage societies are popping up all the time, if you know where to look. You can find some here, http://lineagesocietyofamerica.com/list-of-lineage-societies.html  and here  http://www.hereditary.us/list_a.htm  I qualify for one with my paternal ancestor John Punch, the first official slave of the colonies. John Punch is also the direct ancestor for Barack Obama's mother. I mentioned my ancestry to John Punch in my letter to receive an application, which I received. No DNA here either, but at least my ancestor wasn't questioned and the requirements were spelled out. Now I just have to have enough proof.

I took the Ancestry DNA test. Here are my results:

My 2% other regions are Eastern European and North African. I uploaded these DNA results to other places: MyHeritage, FTDNA, 23andMe, and Gedmatch. My African ancestry runs between 1.5% and 2%, on average. I phased my DNA on Gedmatch to isolate the DNA I received from my mother and discovered I received all my African DNA from her, in addition to my Native American DNA, which is about 0.08%, while my father's is 0.31%, all very small amounts.

I've read multiple posts online about people getting a DNA test and being a victim of genetic discrimination. According to the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) per the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-gina.cfm, genetic information is defined as

  • Information about an individual's genetic tests;
  • Information about the genetic test of a family member;
  • Family medical history;
  • Requests for and receipt of genetic services by an individual or a family member; and
  • Genetic information about a fetus carried by an individual or family member or of an embryo legally held by an individual or family member using assisted reproductive technology.
The article discusses employment discrimination only. Can DNA be used to discriminate in other areas? I hope not. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Save Your Photos Month: Finding Your Family Photos

Today is the beginning of Save Your Photos Month. This is not as easy as it sounds. First you have to locate the family photos to be saved. Where can you find them?

1. Current pictures can be found in your mobile device and can be easily transferred to your computer and uploaded.

2. Before cell phones, people used cameras to take pictures. For stand alone digital cameras you have to use a USB cable to import the pictures into your computer. These pictures are generally from the 1990s to about the mid 2000s for most people.

3. Pictures from about 1920 to 1990 were mainly taken by film cameras. These photos can be found in two formats, color or black and white photos or slides. Color photos tend to fade over time and scanning them into the computer can be difficult. I've found you need to set the image color code to color. Black and white photos should be set to gray for the best results. These pictures are usually found in photo albums. Here are my examples of both pictures I've scanned, each picture is of me with my grandmother Theresa Tate Newman.

Slides are stored in small boxes labeled with the name of the film company like Kodak. Amazon sells slide viewers so you can tell which slides contain family photos. This article tells you how to scan your slides digitally. https://www.scantips.com/es-1.html

4. Before film cameras there were cabinet cards. These were popular from around the 1880s to about 1920. They look like rectangles of cardboard with photos on them. I have found these stored in a banker's box with other framed photos and even pasted in an old photo album. I have also found them nestled between postcards and old greeting cards. Here's a cabinet card of my great grandmother, Mary Jane Shively Taylor.

During this time starting about 1900 family photos can be found on postcards. These can be mixed in with other postcards your family members may have saved so be on the lookout. Family photos can be found on Christmas cards. Here's my great aunt, Eva Tate Thornburg, and her husband at Christmas time, about 1956.

5. If you're lucky you'll find tintype photos of family members. These date from about 1860 through the 1870s. Since these photos are delicate you can usually find them pasted in an album or in an envelope, which may or may not be labeled. Here's my great great grandfather Frank Stauder, about 1860.

Family photos can be found anywhere: a scrapbook, in a drawer, between the pages of a book, and even mixed in with unrelated documents. Check your home carefully. If you have to go through a relative's house after that person's death, be thorough. You just might miss a great treasure.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Face Time with Your Ancestors

I received the coolest email from FamilySearch this weekend. For free you can use their facial recognition software to compare your facial features with those of your ancestors. All I had to do was click on the 'Compare' link in the email and upload my ancestor's photo and the software did the comparison on the FamilySearch site, after I logged into my free account. I could upload as many pictures as I wanted.

I matched one ancestor 64%, much higher than the next match down at 41%, my mother. Her photo is shown here:

This is my paternal grandmother, Theresa Eudora Tate. I was surprised the match didn't come from either my father or mother. My father was a 33% facial match to me. The match higher than his was at 38%, my 4X great maternal grandmother Sarah Carmichael! Her death tintype picture

So how does all this help with your genealogy? I have yet to find any DNA links to Sarah Carmichael. However, I did upload a picture of a mystery woman I found unlabeled with my mother's things. Her facial features are a 28% match to mine, which is the same percentage match to me as my maternal grandmother, and two of my maternal great great grandmothers. I'm no closer to identifying her, but at least now I know she's a relative. Here's her picture:

One flaw I found was that when I uploaded a second photo of my father the facial match was 22%. Seems to be too much of a discrepancy for any research value.

The verdict? This facial recognition can be useful in determining whether an unlabeled photo is that of a relative, but not useful for genealogical research. Other programs upcoming for FamilySearch are "All about Me" concerning one's birth year (I don't know how that can be better than Googling the date) and "Replace-a-face", where you can place any picture in a historical picture, pretty juvenile if you ask me.

If you want to play with the facial recognition program, the link is https://www.familysearch.org/discovery/compare

Monday, August 20, 2018

Down in the Dumps: A Family Bible Tale

A family bible can be a critical source of genealogical information. Take this page from the documents I purchased from DAR

This document was submitted back about 1949 and was good enough for proof for membership back then. This is the only record  I have of Elizabeth Hall, the first wife of William Hosack. This bible is described in great detail - water damaged and half missing. Unfortunately all of it is missing now. This description is all that remains of this bible now, to my knowledge.

About six months ago I found something extraordinary on Ancestry - a family bible record of my paternal 3rd great grandparents James and Ann Meredith Roberts and some of his children, including my 2nd paternal great grandfather. The story told by the wonderful lady who posted this online was that the bible was found by someone hunting coons in a dump in Florida. That man touched the book with the toe of his shoe and luckily picked it up. Here's a page

This is a wonderful source of James Robert's birthdate. I still haven't determined the relationship of the Elizabeth Roberts listed on this page, but thanks to this, I know she existed.

If a book looks ratty and like garbage, don't treat it like trash. It could be a real treasure.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Difference of Two Years

I'm about ready to mail out my documentation to the national DAR in support of my supplemental ancestor Patrick Sullivan, work I've done on my own with the help of suggestions from genealogical groups on Facebook. My maternal grandmother used this Patriot as her supplemental back about 1949 and I'm trying to use her research to do the same. Remember that money I spent on the supporting documentation for Benjamin McKnight? Well included in that packet was the information I needed for Patrick Sullivan. Evidently my maternal grandmother must have applied for four supplementals at the same time.
In her records my ancestor William Sullivan was born in 1785. However, according to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, a Wilhelm Sullivan was born 9 Feb and baptized 25 Jun 1787. No problem, just say he was born 9 Feb 1785. If only life were so easy. This same Pennsylvania source says that a Phillip Sullivan was born to Patrick and Barbara Sullivan on 21 Jul 1785. So what to do? All I could say happened was a transcription error on one of my ancestor's part or the last digit was smudged somewhere. Interesting to note that my grandmother had no record of a Phillip Sullivan.

An item of interest I learned was that the Orphans' Court isn't just for orphans, at least in Pennsylvania. A record of Patrick Sullivan's estate was found in the Orphans' Court docket 1793-1827 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

Will a difference of two years make a difference whether the supplemental is accepted? Or will I run into other problems? I cited four books, but had to lean on my grandmother having a record of Mary, whose son Jeremiah Sullivan Black was a former US Secretary of State and therefore generated a lot of documents, including genealogical records I could use. These books also held information that Patrick Sullivan was a captain in the Pennsylvania line. Will that be enough proof of service? Time will tell, but in the meantime, I've learned much I can use on future genealogical research.

UPDATE: The supplemental was accepted! I proved his location and his service was listed as paying a supply tax in 1781 in York County, Pennsylvania. This is now a viable line into Daughters of the American Revolution. Turns out I wasn't done in by two years after all.