Testing for Genealogy DNA is the newest “big thing” in genealogy. It is
no different then any other DNA testing; you get the same kind of results. But
how the results are used in genealogy is a little different. In genealogy you
upload your data and see if there are other matches (i.e. people) out there in
your same tree that you don’t know about. This brings together folks who are
researching the same ancestor but are not aware of each other.
 
There are three organizations who are major players: 23andme.com;
FamilyTreeDNA.com; and Ancestry.com. They all do the same thing, but they do
have different focuses.

23andme.com  has a chromosome browser. This means you can look at your raw data in graph  form, which makes a little more  sense. Their primary focus, however, is for health issues in people groups, for  example, the Amish. But this is still a useful sight; more on that later. If you  want to trace the male/surname line, you might find matches here because of the
target groups they research. However, their gene pool at the moment is not as  large as the others. The fact  that they have a browser makes them useful. Other sites do not at the moment. What is helpful,  you can upload your data from other sites and look at them in the chromosome browser, here.
 
FamilyTreeDNA.com has a large database  for comparison. For YDNA (male) or mtDNA (female) or even autosomal DNA (total)  this is the website that will bring you the biggest results. They have a large  surname testing project. This would be the place to research unless you want  something more on the medical side of your line.  FamilyTreeDNA  does not have a browser yet, but they are working on it. For now, you can  receive your raw data and for a fee, upload it at 23andme.com and look at it in  their browser. FamilyTreeDNA does give you the most comprehensive set of results.
 
Ancestry.com is the third site that is doing genealogy DNA. This is the best place to go  for matches in your tree. However, they, too, do not have a browser yet. They  are also working on standardizing their terms so that you can receive your raw  data and upload it else where and all the terms match. You will probably find  your biggest amount of matches here. When it comes to genealogy this is probably  the most exciting place as you may find others working on the same ancestor. 
 
There is somewhat of a learning curve because of the terms used in the DNA science. For example: autosomal, mitochondrial, chromosome and others. ISOGG.com is a good website to study. This is an International Society for those  involved in genetic genealogy. They have a tab “For Beginners” you can click on and it gives lots of helpful information. DNA 101 also lists terms that are used  in this research and what they mean. This is a good reference site.

There is  another organization/website that is doing testing: the Genographic Project (genographic.com). The National Geographic in cooperation with IBM and a foundation is providing public testing for DNA. Field  researchers at 11 regional centers around the world collect DNA samples from  indigenous populations. Different populations have different genetic markers,  and by following them through the generations scientists are able to identify  the different branches of the human diversity. Indigenous populations provide geographical and cultural context to the genetic markers in their DNA. These clues help recreate past human migration patterns. 
 
Their primary focus aims to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples of people from around the world. FamilyTreeDNA does that actual testing for the Genographic Project. You will receive the results (Data) from the
test.

Any of these tests are easy and simple to perform. A quick swab of the inside of your cheek is all it takes. The costs range from $49 to over $600, depending on what you want done. You can start out small and upgrade over time to spread the costs out. 
 
The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell has an article on Genealogy DNA that is worth the read. It explains it so that it is easy to understand and sheds more light on the various website then given here.  Check out her website here.    

She also talks about another website, Gedmatch.com that is being revised but you can still access it. To be able to access the whole website you need to set up an account, but the registration is free; no cost!

Happy Ghost Busting!
 
 
Once a year the LDS stake in Springdale, Arkansas holds an all day genealogy workshop with over 40 classes. This year I attended three classes in the afternoon. You will be hearing more about these classes in other posts.

If you live in the area, next spring be watching for this event. They do have a website so you can look at it and bring up the information about it. Currently it has this year's event that just took place last weekend. But it will give you an idea on what they cover.

In the mean time, the Jones Center for Families in Springdale has a room set aside for researching your family history, staffed by local LDS folks and other volunteers. They are very helpful. I have used their research centers a lot down through the years. If you are worried about proselytizing they do not do this. These locations are open to anyone doing research on their family. Look here for their website and further information.

Maybe these websites will lead you one step closing to busting out those ghosts in your closet. So, as always, Happy Ghost busting!
 
 
Maybe you have just started or maybe you have been doing your research for many years. There comes a time when someone else may decide what is going to be done with all that work.  Others may not appreciate all the work you have done or all the information you have found or care about their family tree, their ancestors or where they came from. 

It is important to take pause and think about the future residence of your research. Do you want it kept in the family? Are there those who would be interested in carrying on your labor of love? What if there are not? Then what do you do?

Do not over estimate, or over expect that others are going to care about your research as much as you do. Or maybe it is heirlooms you have. What’s going to happen to Grandma’s sewing basket? What’s going to happen to Mom’s wedding dress? What about those medals Dad received from the war? The same goes for larger pieces like a barrister’s bookcase, or antique bedroom set. In any case, consideration needs to be made in regards to their future.

It’s best to find out ahead of time what your family’s interests are and plan accordingly. Some items that are of historical significance or valuable to family history can be placed or offered to local historical museums, or state historical societies. In some cases, there may be special museums that would be interested, like local military museums.

In my case I have poems, essays, letters, and music written by a great-grandfather who fought in the civil war. Already I have begun contacting places to see if there would be an ideal place to donate them, so that all future generations would have access to these.

I have heard too many stories of years of research or family pictures being thrown in the trash. Then no one has them – the immediate family, or future generations. This is a tragedy and ought not to happen!

So take a moment, give some thought to what you want done with your research, and heirlooms and decided now. Unfortunately we have no idea when our day of passing will come. If we do not have these arrangements made ahead of time, it will be too late. Start working on it today!!
 
 
How on earth can children's books help in genealogy research? You probably aren't going to find your family's names nor is it apt to link generations for you. But, it is a handy source when you want to read about the time frame in which an ancestor lived.

You've decided you want to do some research but you don't have a lot of time to do heavy reseraching. Check out the children's non-fiction books. You may find a book on the topic you are looking for: fashions of the period; military events; presidents or other rulers where they lived; food and customs and more.

I have been doing research on a great grandfather who fought in the civil war. I discovered that he fought in almost all of the major battles. Children's library had a book on the battles of the civil war. It was just enough information to help me understand what was going on, without going into so much depth about this company moving here and that company moving there against the enemies right flank or front line, etc... That is a lot harder to keep track of that I didn't need. Children's non-fiction books can give you just the right amount of information.

Sometimes you will also find pictures or illustrations in children's non-fiction that may be harder to find otherwise. You can use these if you are putting a notebook together or a scrapbook for your personal use. If you publish, however, you need to be aware of copyrights and use them accordingly.

Maybe you do have a famous ancestor, like Thomas A Edison, for example. Look for a children's book or books on him. Or any topic you are interested. You might be surprised what you'll learn beyond just dates and places from children's non-fiction books.

 
 
We hear that phrase alot, but do we ever really stop to think how we can do that when it comes to genealogy? Probably not most of the time. But that is something we really should do, especially when it comes to brick walls.

There is several ways we could go here. One thought that comes to mind is putting yourself in the shoes of the person you are researching. What time frame do they live in? What did they wear, what did they eat, what was their occupation like, what level of technology did they have at that time?

Now, technology is a big word and actually scares alot of people.  But "technology of the day" could be a slate and piece of chalk.  At school, did they sit on benches, or did they sit at tables, or did they have individual desks? That is part of the technology of the classroom.  Technology wasn't always about machines that were run by electricity, and did digital computing.

Technology may have been - what did they use to make the cave paintings, how did they get their goods to market: barge, mule, wagon, on their backs...? What impact did the invention of the wheel have on daily life, or trade, the civilization as a whole? How did the idea of pigment paint come about? Where does your ancestor fit in, in these scenarios?

I'll never forget the day (just maybe the date) when I realized my pet ancestor (that is, my favorite ancestor, not my pet's great grandfather!!!) ...lived during the civil war in America. That meant he had no microwave, he had no electric or gas cooking or  heating stove for that matter. He had no car or truck, no electricity of any kind. His life was very organic. Everything that he had or did came from the natural world around him.

What triggered my thinking on all this was a book I came across in the library where I work.  I must subconciously have genealogy on my brain all the time. The title was "Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970". COLONIAL TIMES just jumped right at me! Wow. Now I know that statistics may not be your favorite topic. It's not mine, either. But if you take a lot at the numbers, especially comparisons you begin to get an idea of what life was like 'back in the day.'

Now it's not going to list your ancestor, John Black, and tell you he had this occupation, this amount of education, lived in these areas... But it does tell you is what the trend was. I see that in 1946 we had 485 thousand passengers arriving. By 1970 it was up to 10,039,000. More came from Europe than anywhere else. The least varied from year to year, but often was Africa or Mexico. Typically there were waves from different countries, like the Irish during the potato famine.

What about shifts in occupations? Is this why your ancestor moved to California. Maybe he gave up agriculture and went panning for gold. These are all things you need to keep in mind. Statistics - what can they give to you? They can give you background information; help you see the bigger pictures; help you think OUTSIDE THE BOX.

Happy Ghost Busting!
 
 
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas Holiday and a Happy New Year as well. If you celebrated other holidays I hope it was all safe and memorable.

Now that we're settling into our winter routine, this is a good time to stay in and work on your genealogy. Whether you sit in front of your computer or in a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace and TV you will be amazed at the amount of work you can get done.

Since we have just finished celebrating the holidays, have you ever thought about writing down what you did this Christmas (or other holidays...), who was there, what you had for dinner, what traditions your family has? Now is the time to do it while it is fresh on your mind.

Or you could even think back to your childhood days and write a short recollection of what your family did for Christmas then. We don't realize how much things change over time because they may be gradual, or we just forget we used to do something 'that way'. It will give a peek into the past for future generations to see and read what your family did 'back when.' It always helps to flesh out names-dates-places and show how folks were real people back then just like we are nowdays.

Merchandise style and design (e.g. decorations) change over time as well. If you have pictures it's always interesting to see what Christmas looked like in former days. Add them into your collection. If you can get them scanned into your computer that would be great! Then you can add them to your family history in whatever form you have it.

I would love to hear what some of your customs are or have been.

Happy Trails down Memory Lane, to you and Happy Ghost Busting!
 
 
I had thought about writing a post about scrapbooking your ancestral pictures. But I decided before I do that, let's talk about the pictures themselves.

I think everyone has pictures tucked away somewhere who have not even identified who are in the pictures. We plan to do it someday, and time gets away. Or maybe you figure you know who they are, but you think no one else really cares to know.  I have such an album that my grandmother-in-law had. Since it's not my side of the family, I have no clue who most of the people are. "Skeletons in the closet" kept the family apart for many years, both figuratively and physically. Part of the family moved away and did not keep in touch with Grandma in latter years.

Of course, now, all the pertinent people who would know have all passed away and I have little recourse in tracking down the identity of these people.

I have an even older album full of tin types from my mother's side of the family and less than 25% of those are identified.  What can you do when you have a situation like this? Well, you have to become somewhat of a detective. First to be determind is - are they family member or friends of the family. The album that they are in, to begin with, might give you a clue. My older album is marked Friends. So, there's a good possibility that these are not relatives. On the other hand, it could be they didn't restrict the pictures to only friends, human beings that we are. That will always be a lingering doubt.

OK - so what are we to do. Begin by researching the following:
    1. What type of picture is this (tin type, poloroid, deckled edge...)? This will help determine a time period.
    2.What are the style of clothes? This also helps with time setting.
    3. How old do the people in the picture look to be?
    4. Who in your family fits that time period and approximate age?
    5. Is it a Man or Woman?
    6. If the studio is printed somewhere on the picture, that will give you a location. Minnesota, for example. (Sometimes, you can contact the studio and get information, if they are still in existence.)
    7. Who do you know lived in Minnesota, looks to be about 30, a woman, in the late 1800's? Maybe it's __________________.
    8. Do you have other, similar photos that are identified?
    9. One tip I read that I thought was especially helpful, is check the ears, if you can see them. Every person's ears have a unique design that never changes from baby and childhood to adulthood. If you are able to see the ear (harder on women's pictures), you might be able to identify the person with 99% certainty.

I have a very large portrait that was in my parents attic and my mother never told me who it is; or if she did I never remembered it. In fact, I didn't even remember or know it was there until I went to clean out their house after both of them were gone. AAAGGGHHH!

What research I have done (time period was obvious, no studio given), I am 98% sure that it is one of two sisters of my greatgrandfather. At the moment (as I write this), I don't remember which of the two sisters I decided on, but I was able to see the lower part of the ear in more than one picture of the girls and that was the biggest help in deciding who I was pretty sure of whom the picture is.

I'll have to admit I haven't pursued the Van Gorder Album marked "Friends" - but that is one my projects to work on when I retire. Hopefully my own tips I've learned will help me figure out these nameless folk!

Happy Ghost Busting!
 
 
Recently I reviewed several genealogy books for our local library. These three are general, across-the-board books that every researcher should have. So I thought I would post them here for your perusal.

YOUR GUIDE TO CEMETERY RESEARCH by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Cincinnati: Better Way Books, 2002, (an F&W Publications imprint).

            Anytime you find something written by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack you know you have a good book. She has written several genealogy research books, is nationally known and speaks often at national genealogical conferences. She is a reputable professional genealogist.

           This book on cemeteries is timeless. It is an excellent resource for researching cemeteries and tombstones and what they can tell the researcher. There are several helpful appendices in the back that every researcher needs when researching graves, headstones, cemeteries, causes of death, etc.

            She covers death records, how-to’s, locating and searching cemeteries, interpreting what is on the markers, funeral and burial customs, and more.

            This should be on the shelf of every serious researcher. I highly recommend this for your research.
 

THE FAMILY TREE PROBLEM SOLVER, by Marsha Hoffman Rising, Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2005 (edited by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack), (an F&W Publications imprint).

            When doing genealogy you inevitably will run into roadblocks. This book addresses some of the major roadblocks genealogists encounter.  The book is a good step by step book that helps you from beginning to end – from analyzing your situation and finding solutions to overcome your roadblocks.

            Subjects this book covers are: burned out courthouses, finding vital record documentation before vital records of today began, trying to separate two people of the same name and how to determine which one is yours, what to do when your family doesn’t appear to be on the census, tracing collateral kin (cluster theory) when you can’t trace your own. Also included is a chapter on avoiding the ten most common mistakes researchers make. It concludes with showing you how to analyze the evidence you have found and what it tells you.

            This book is one that basically will not go out of date. It would be helpful for anyone at any stage of research and would do well on your shelf.

THE GENEALOGIST’S COMPANION AND SOURCEBOOK, by Emily Anne Croom. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, (an F&W Publications imprint), 2003.

            Emily Croom is a published genealogical author as well as a professional researcher, speaker and teacher. She has published previously, including the well known, Unpuzzling Your Past.

            The Companion and Sourcebook is a must-have book for any researcher. Aptly named it makes for a handy reference to have beside you as you research your family. It is something that basically will not go out of date, except for newly discovered information that needs to be added and the like.

            It covers a variety of topics that are basic to any researcher, but give you beyond the basic guidance into research. Some of these topics are on understanding censuses, what they contain and how they vary; Sources and Records ranging from local all the way to federal levels, how to find them, and why they are helpful. She has two chapters that concentrate on two ethnic groups in our nation: the African-American and the American Indian, both of which can be difficult to trace.

            She ends with two appendices, endnotes and an index, all very helpful.
            This book would be well worth having in any library collection, public or private.

I hope you "check these out" soon as you will see how valuable they are.
Happy Ghost Busting!

 
 
Recently a patron came into our library and found out I was the "unofficial" staff genealogist. He said that his Dad's grandfather had desserted the grandmother when he found out his wife was expecting. Little to nothing was known about the man, not even his correct name!

I began searching and didn't get very far. I did have the correct name for the grandmother. So I used one of those genealogy tips that are given to people. If you can't research the individual, try researching others that are tied to them. So I began looking for the grandmother. Within a few days I found a collateral descendant that had researched her family line and had her marriage. It even gave their wedding date. Voila!

But, as every good genealogist should do, I wanted the documentation that proved the wedding date. Well my favorite website (Ancestry) didn't have it, or at least...I couldn't find it. I'm so used to being able to find virtually everything on one website that I tend to forgot (tunnel vision) there are other places you can look, and also free!! Since I was stimied I racked my brain - well maybe that's over exagerated - where else I could look. I checked with familysearch.org and sure enough, I found the marriage record. Even better, it gave the parents' names of both the bride AND GROOM!!!  Woo Hoo! The groom's parent's names had not been known by my patron.

I went back to Ancestry and did some more digging. As a result I discovered that the collateral descendant lives in a nearby state, about 200 miles away. I contacted him, we exchanged several emails and in the end he sent me pictures, Coat-of-arms, and some descendancy charts. I printed off about 75 pages, downloaded the pictures, COA'a and the pdfs onto a CDR! (How's that for alphabet soup!!!)

I called the patron today and told him what all I had found and what I had here for him. I was so excited for him. He was ecstatic! Plans are he will come tomorrow morning  and claim his treasure!

Today's Tip: Don't be too narrow in who you are researching or how you are approaching your work. A wider net catches more fish - or sometimes just the fish you want!!


Happy Ghost Busting!
 
 
Have you ever visited a cemetery just for browsing or walked through one and noticed the variety of grave markers? Sometimes a visit to a cemetery, not to visit a particular grave but just to walk around can really be a beautiful, peaceful and quiet place to visit, walk, or meditate. Try it sometime. Really.

Stones (grave markers, or whatever you want to call them) in and of themselves are interesting. What they are made of, ...their shape ...and size. What is or is not put on them. You can learn alot about a person just by looking at their stone.

You can find symbols or images on them which have all kinds of meaning. Not every stone has one, but a great many do. Have you ever wondered what they mean? With the use of the Internet you can find many sites that explain the meanings of these symbols. Here is just one of them. 

You will find icons or trademarks for organizations the deceased belong to, such as fraternity or other societal groups. Some have to do with their profession or occupation, others with their favorite pasttimes, or their faith, or military. Animals are sometimes used as well. They may have symbolic meaning, or specific meaning to the individual, as in the case of a pet, (dog) or life's work (cow for a farmer).

Something that is popular, as a momento of a person's grave is to do a grave stone rubbing. It is also one of the safer methods of reading a stone. Other ways can be harmful to the stone or to the ground or environment. If a stone is hard to read this can sometimes help you figure out what it says. You need just a few things, but you will need to be prepared ahead of time.

Take with you a large sheet of paper, like blank newsprint, a crayon, carpenter's pencil or the like, and some masking tape or painters tape-something that is easily removable and does not damage the stone. Also take along some hairspray or other aerosol fixative.

At the cemetery, cover the face of the stone that you want to copy with the paper and tape the sides to hold it in place for you. Next take the side of the crayon or use a pencil, even charcoal and start covering your paper with it. Have you ever put a penny under a sheet of paper and 'colored' over it? This is the same idea. After you are done, spray it and carefully remove your paper and roll it up. This will help protect the surface, plus keep it from rubbing onto something in your vehicle. Be sure that all pieces of tape are removed from the stone and that you have left no trash behind. Now you should be able to look at your rubbing and be able to 'read'  the stone, sometimes better than the stone itself. If You also have something to treasure 'from' your loved one.

Happy Ghost Busting!