Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Pardon me if I borrow the title of a song from my high school years, but it seems to fit the topic of today's post. I just returned from my high school reunion. I was a bit disappointed in the turnout. Of course, I expected the turnout to be low. We really did not receive notification of the date until 3 months ago. Pricing and details only came to us in April. I suspect many of my friends had already planned other things for a holiday weekend. Others probably could not arrange to get off work on such notice when others in their places of employment had already requested days around the long weekend.

In spite of the low turnout, those of us who attended enjoyed visiting and reminiscing. I suspect most of us could have done without the DJ and the music that was mostly just interrupting our conversations. A few did dance, but there was little floor space available at our venue. I'd love to post a photo but I have not obtained permission to post one of the group shots some of my friends' spouses' took.

I'm really probably more excited about things that took place earlier in the day. I met with some cousins on my grandmother's paternal line at lunch. We then went out to where they were camping by the gravel pits around Bigbee to get a Y37 plus Family Finder sample. This will be in tomorrow's mail so the waiting begins. We already know where the autosomal DNA is pointing, but it will be interesting to see if we can identify a more specific line with the Y-DNA, perhaps through a mutation. We are showing matches to two branches with differing migration patterns. Persons from both of these areas migrated to the areas in Alabama and Mississippi where our ancestors resided. Hopefully we'll be able to bridge the gap.

After that, I went to my dad's first cousin's house where we attempted to identify all the people not previously identified in the 1984 reunion photograph. We managed to identify some of them. Most of those not identified were the younger children. We enjoyed visiting until it was time for her to go to her granddaughter's birthday party and for me to go to my reunion. We'd love to have another family reunion, but there are fewer and fewer first cousins, and the younger generations don't seem to care as much about getting together. Many of the older ones are unable to travel on their own.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Thoughts on New Ancestor Discoveries

Last week many people were excited about the "new" New Ancestor Discoveries rolling out on Ancestry DNA. I decided to take a look at them. I listed the New Ancestor Discoveries along with their dates for the kits I manage on Ancestry and made columns for each kit I manage. What surprised me was how little overlap my brother and father had. I had more overlap with my dad than he did, but even that wasn't perfect. For example, Dad had a hint for Malachi Watts (1793-1871) while I had a hint for Malachi's father Garrett Z. Watts (1756-1838). While I haven't figured out the exact connection for this line, I have a "hunch." I need to work forward on some of Garrett's lines to see if I can find the connection. What makes this an interesting match is Garrett's mother is supposed to be Cherokee. Our admixture shows no Native American, but of course, admixture is not very reliable. The trees from our "matches" show several variants of Garrett's mother's name.

I recognized some of the suggestions. Cassandra Parrish is a daughter of Allen Parish and his wife Elizabeth, both of whom are already in the tree. I suspect Cassandra came up as a hint because of the spelling variation and absence of a surname for her mother. John Chism is the husband of John Sheppard Anglin's sister Mary "Polly". The connection is really on Polly's parents William M. Anglin and Elizabeth "Betsy" Sheppard. Ann Eliza Abernathy is the wife of Mary Ann Harris's brother Charles Newton Harris. The common ancestors in that case are Walton A. Harris and Margaret Mosely. Several more with similar situations to these exist.

However, a handful of matches potentially useful in expanding a couple of lines are present. Our John Allred's father is unknown. We have long suspected Isaac who is "running around" the same parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama is probably a brother. Autosomal DNA confirms a kinship between the two although it cannot be determined if the relationship is sibling or cousin. Several Allreds show up in our matches: James Allred (1784-1876), Reuben Warren Allred (1815-1896), and Nancy Cynthia Allred (1840-1901). James is the person some people try to say is John's father. Unfortunately the evidence is not strong enough at this point, and I still need to complete a reasonably exhaustive search before I can build a case. Reuben and Cynthia are too young to be parents, but their family ties may help us establish a connection.I'm also excited about an Abigail Harris (1817-1889). I glanced at it quickly. It appears she was attached to a John Harris I suspect may be Walton's grandfather although she is more the age to be a sibling to Walton. I will want to see if the online tree in the "quick view" in New Ancestor Discoveries differs from the individual trees of persons we match. It's possible the trees omitted a generation also.

New Ancestor Discoveries are, therefore, a mixed bag. In most cases, the "ancestor" is probably a different relationship, but the hint received may be useful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Great Excitement Quickly Turns to Sadness

Recently I found one of those really exciting matches at Ancestry -- one where the person matches you through a single ancestor rather than a couple. The match was on a great-great-grandmother. I descended through her first husband; the DNA match descended through her second. An opportunity to focus on a single line!

The problem, of course, is Ancestry DNA lacks a chromosome browser. I contacted the matching kit manager to see if she had uploaded the raw data to GEDmatch.com. She had not. After explaining what it was and did, she was not interested in uploading at this time.

When I looked at the "shared matches" on Ancestry, I was only able to identify one of the two. That person matched my fourth great grandparents on my two great grandmother's maternal side. The other person shows no known connection to that surname. I'm not currently able to make a connection to the tree although perhaps I will be able to do so in the future to make a triangulation . . . but I'd really love to know on which segment the match is located . . . and whether persons who tested at other companies also match the segment.

I hope the kit manager attends some sessions on working with autosomal DNA and learns the benefit of GEDmatch and discovers whats she is missing by not uploading. I did, at least, provide her with a link to a video by Angie Bush that I hope she'll watch.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Thoughts on In-Person Conferences

Amy Johnson Crow asked "Are In-Person Genealogy Events Dead?" in a recent blog post. She didn't think so, and I don't think so either.

Attendance was down a bit at this year's NGS Conference, but location was probably the biggest factor. Fewer persons have Florida ancestry than areas more central to the country. The distance was great for most persons who did not want to fly. Major repositories in the area were not plentiful unless you were fortunate enough to have ancestors in that immediate area.

Cost may have been a factor as well. The hotel prices and luncheons/banquet seemed slightly higher than some in the past, but not that much higher. Some of us went to Publix, grabbed a loaf of bread, some sandwich stuff, and ate lunch in our own rooms.

I suspect conflicts with college and university graduations were another factor for many travelling from a distance with family members graduating. I know it is difficult for me to attend both NGS and FGS because of the timing, but I do try to attend at least one if at all possible. It's generally not a problem if I'm selected to speak or if I'm involved in some other activity/event at the conference.

I enjoyed the conference tremendously. I attended lectures on new-to-me topics. I enjoyed spending time with fellow genealogists. I definitely plan to attend next year's conference in Raleigh. I'm considering FGS in Pittsburgh if logistics and budget work out. I would also like to attend IGHR next year since the date change means it will no longer conflict with a work-related conference.

Webinars are nice, but it's quite easy to go into webinar overload. I'm more selective of the ones I attend than I used to be. They are not a substitute for in-person interaction that occurs at conferences.

Each conference or event has its own culture. Some people are comfortable with all of them; some are comfortable only with the one that fits their own style best. I encourage you to attend conferences, whether local, regional, or national!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Do the Official Vital Records Lie?

Recently I was talking with one of my cousins. She shared how her brother's middle name was erroneous on his birth certificate. The family even called him by the middle name his mother gave him at birth. However, when the birth certificate was pulled out of a safe so he could apply for a passport, the error was discovered.

In this particular situation, I can see how a doctor or hospital employee unfamiliar with the unusual name for this area at this time might have misheard it and written it down incorrectly or how a person at the state records office might have written the wrong thing from the form. Both middle names start with the same two letters, and both have two syllables.

The informant for the birth certificate should have been the parents. They would have known the name they were giving their son. The error in the record must have been introduced elsewhere.

Death certificates often contain problematic information regarding birth. The informants on these are often persons who were not present at the time of birth and may provide incorrect dates and locations. They often have incomplete parental information, and in some cases, erroneous information.

While the birth information on birth certificates is generally less problematic than birth information on death certificates, we need to reconcile discrepancies using all the evidence.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cumberland Gap Genealogy Jamboree 2016

This year's Cumberland Gap Genealogy Jamboree will be held June 9-11. While the event includes reenactments, old timey crafts, and much more, the event includes lectures of interest to genealogists.

J. Mark Lowe mulling and pondering at the 2015 Cumberland Gap Genealogy Jamboree

The main track of lectures is held at the National Park's visitor center's auditorium.

Thursday, June 9

9 am - 10 am - Dora Fisher / What's New on FamilySearch
10:30 am - 11:30 am - Dora Fisher / FamilySearch Strategies
1 pm - 2 pm - Peggy Clemens Lauritzen / Putting America to Work: The Records of the WPA (Works Progress Administration)
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Peggy Clemens Lauritzen / The Scots-Irish in America

Friday, June 10

9 am - 10 am - Ann Blomquist / Migration Routes
10:30 am - 11:30 am - Ann Blomquist / Using Old Newspapers for Research
1 pm - 2 pm - J. Mark Lowe / Proving Early Relationships
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - J. Mark Lowe / Cemeteries as a Genealogical Resource

Saturday, June 11

9 am - 10 am - J. Mark Lowe / Using State Archives & Libraries from Afar
10:30 am - 11:30 am - J. Mark Lowe / Talking to the Neighbors to Learn More about Your Family
1 pm - 2 pm - Lori Thornton / Researching Your Baptist Ancestor
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Lori Thornton / The Basics of DNA for the Family Historian

The events in the Festival Park location in the town of Cumberland Gap are a bit more diverse in nature but include some lectures of interest to genealogists.

Thursday, June 9

10 am - 11 am - Dick Gault / Military Research Pertaining to Appalachia
11 am - Noon - Jerry Mustin / Explaining the Meaning of Old Sayings
1 pm - 2 pm - Dick Gault / Appalachian Research
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Mike Dahl / Kings Mountain: The American Spirit

Friday, June 10

10 am - 11 am - General Lee / Civil War Flag Presentation
11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Dick Gault / Cumberland Gap Area Feuds
1 pm - 2 pm - Abraham Lincoln
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Peggy Clemens Lauritzen / America's Forgotten War: The War of 1812
     or Dick Gault / Cemetery Research: Field Trip to Cemetery

Saturday, June 11

10:15 am - 11:15 am - Sharon Petro / Dulcimer
11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Denise Reagan (Nashville Singer/Songwriter)
1 pm - 2 pm - Abraham Lincoln-General Lee Debate
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm - Peggy Sawyer / Storytelling: Ghost & Folklore/Stories Galore

Vendors along the main street in the town of Cumberland Gap during the 2013 Jamboree.

If you are in the area, please consider joining us for one or more of the days!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Looking Back at NGS 2016 in Fort Lauderdale

By now most of you have read numerous accounts of this year's National Genealogical Society Family History Conference in Fort Lauderdale. I want to share a little from my perspective.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday afternoon and was excited to discover I had a room with a view. The room overlooked the cruise port.

Cruise Ships in Fort Lauderdale
We also had quite the view of the bridge across the Intercoastal Waterway on 17th Street.

Drawbridge over Intercoastal Waterway at 17th Street
I enjoyed visiting with friends after arriving on Tuesday. I roomed with Yolanda Campbell Lifter. She's a great roommate although we mostly saw each other only in the evenings.

The Convention Center as seen from the Hotel Parking Lot

On Wednesday and Thursday I mostly attended the Caribbean track of lectures. If you want to learn something new, going to lectures about areas in which you have not researched is one way to do so. I believe we are going to see an upsurge in persons seeking their Cuban roots with the lifting of sanctions against the country. Unfortunately record preservation has not been the highest priority of the Cuban government and a lot of barriers exist to accessing what does exist. Fortunately church records can often be very helpful to those seeking their Cuban roots. My favorite lectures in the track were the two by Jeff Haines (Bahamas/Florida and Barbados) and the one by Michael Hait (San Domingue).

I attended several lectures on African-American research during the week that were also quite useful. Deborah Abbott presented a wealth of information on manuscript collections useful in African-American research on Thursday morning. Friday morning she demonstrated the difficulty of researching enslaved ancestors but presented wonderful examples of finding them by using their "FAN Club." Mark Lowe followed her with another presentation showing all sorts of places to locate marriage records for freedmen.

Intercoastal Waterway
I spent most of Saturday in the State Research track as the emphasis was on Southern States. Diane Richard gave a great presentation on records for poor ancestors in North Carolina. Jeff Haines' presentation on South Carolina Land Records introduced me to a few resources I have not yet explored for some of those "lost in South Carolina" ancestors. Mark Lowe gave a pitch for next year's conference as he gave a lecture on North Carolina research.

Across the bridge
No convention would be complete without socializing with friends. The exhibit hall offered fewer vendors this year than some years. It's always fun to see who you "run into" while visiting the various booths. I attended a breakfast one morning where I had the opportunity to sit and visit with several genealogists including Judy Russell, D. Joshua Taylor, Beth Stahr, and others. We had some very interesting conversations that morning. Many genealogists enjoyed the luncheons and/or NGS Banquet also. One evening I had a message from Donna Pointkouski asking if I could meet her and Lisa Alzo outside by the pool so we could visit. As soon as I wrapped up the visit with the person I was visiting at the time, I headed out there and enjoyed a nice hour long visit with them. The weather was quite pleasant that evening also!

Lori and Jeff

If you've never attended an NGS conference, you really need to prioritize attending next year's conference in Raleigh. Of course, those of you who have attended previous conferences need to prioritize it too. (No -- Mark Lowe, next year's national chair, is not paying me to say that!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Comparing Admixtures of Siblings and of Parent and Child(ren)

Recently Judy Russell demonstrated for her blog followers why ethnicity estimates provided by testing companies could not be trusted in her post "Those Percentages, Revisited." I knew problems in my family's admixture results were present in the results, but until Judy posted the table, I never thought of creating one for my own family.

Using the results from the same company Judy used, I created a table.

British Isles69%67%27%84%
Southern Europe3%7%
Western and Central Europe18%100%73%15%
Asia Minor9%2%
West Africa1%

Let me make a quick note. The niece is the daughter of "Brother2." Is it not interesting that he is 100% of Western and Central European ancestry, but that she only has 15% rather than the expected 50%? She has rather strong British Isles ancestry.

I seem to have missed out on the Western and Central European ancestry, but I have a high percentage of "Asia Minor." I have a rather high percentage of Scandinavian ancestry according to this estimate, but only one brother shares any of that with me, and it apparently came from my mother's side of the family.

I decided to compare the admixtures at another site, but unfortunately I cannot include Brother2 in these admixture results as he only tested at the one company.

CountryMeBrother1 DadNiece
Great Britain 70% 48% 52% 85%
Ireland 11% 27% 31% 9%
Italy/Greece 8% 10% 6%
Europe East 4% < 1%
European Jewish 4%
Finland/Northwest Russia 1% 2% 1% 4%
Scandinavia < 1%1% 5% <1%
Europe West < 1% 9%
Iberian Peninsula 2%
Caucasus 2% 2% 2%
Benin/Togo < 1%
African Southeastern Bantu 1%
Mali < 1%
Africa North < 1%

Overall these results seem to be a little less erratic than the earlier ones, but differences still exist. I find the differences between testing companies fascinating. I'm the only one who has tested with 23 and Me so I cannot determine how different admixtures are between siblings and/or parents.

Admixture remains the least reliable part of the DNA test. It's fun to see, but one should not rely too much on the results returned.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Carolina Cradle

Ramsey, Robert W. Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964.

Have you ever put off reading a book, and you aren't exactly sure why? I love reading about history. North Carolina history is one of my favorite states in which to research. I've reads lots of books on North Carolina's history. I've known about this book for years and knew it was highly recommended. I even checked it out of my library once and didn't get around to reading it.

Last month was my "Thingaversary" on LibraryThing. It's a tradition for people to celebrate the anniversary of the date they joined LibraryThing by purchasing one book for each year a member and one to grow up. Since it was my 9th "Thingaversary," I was entitled to ten books. I'm definitely out of space on my shelves at home so I decided e-books would be the way to go this year. I decided to purchase only books that were not available at the local library fiction-wise and for the nonfiction books, I wanted books that I wanted to add to my permanent collection but for which I lacked space. My reading tastes are diverse so I decided my purchases should be also. I had a historical fiction title, a mystery, a cookbook, a Garfield book with "best of" Sunday cartoons, three religious non-fiction volumes I could use devotionally, and three North Carolina history books, including Carolina Cradle, in my purchases.

For the history reading, I decided to start with Ramsey's book. Almost from the moment I began reading it, I began scolding myself for not reading it sooner.

Ramsey examined the settlement of the Yadkin Valley area in North Carolina, especially what was early Rowan County. Rowan was formed from the northern part of Anson County in 1753. Researchers, of course, know that many counties were formed from Rowan County, so the area at one time included much of what is now known as the Piedmont area. Many of the early settlers came from Eastern Pennsylvania, especially Berks, Lancaster, and Chester Counties. A few other counties in Pennsylvania and some in Maryland also contributed to settlement of the Yadkin Valley.

Ramsey looked at records and manuscripts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina in his study and provided a rich treasure for family historians in doing so. While none of my researched North Carolina ancestors were included, I recognized names of associates and even some names which could be the common name ancestors I need to find time to research.

Ramsey discussed the European origins and religions of those who settled the area also.

Although Ramsey wrote the book over fifty years ago, it is still a rich treasure for historians and genealogists alike and is highly readable. My biggest regret is that I did not read this one sooner.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Fact-Checking Books and Other Published Sources

I recently read a blog post that concerned one of my ancestral towns in North Mississippi. In the post, the author cited a published book on the town's history. Unfortunately many persons with answers who lived in the town (now a ghost town) raised concerns about the information in the book as they first read it. My paternal grandmother was one of those persons who could tell you everything about everyone and how they were related, but she could also tell you about area history. My dad and my mom both commented "that's wrong" several times as they read the book. I read an excerpt to someone else who was familiar with the area's history who also made comments about errors in the book. None of these then living individuals ever resided in the town of Cotton Gin Port, but their grandparents did. They had heard stories all their lives. I found things where evidence did not add up as well. While I still own and consult the source, I treat it with skepticism and try to find other sources to back up the author's conclusions.

When the blog (which I'm hoping has been removed due to the erroneous information) stated that the area was part of Marion County in Alabama until the state line was surveyed in 1821, I knew the author had not fact-checked and had accepted the information.

Why? I had ancestors living in Cotton Gin Port at the time, and I knew they were enumerated in Monroe County, Mississippi, and not in the Alabama Territory as the statement on the blog about the area's history would lead the reader to believe. I took the name of the "first settler" mentioned in the blog post, plugged it into the 1820 census search, and found him in Monroe County, Mississippi, not in Alabama Territory.

I am sometimes guilty of accepting too much that is published in local histories of towns and such as "facts" without verifying the sources. I sometimes accept the information as true, even when I know they sometimes contain errors. This means I need to go back and locate other sources that support the information contained in them. In some cases, I found documents such as city directories, Fire Insurance maps, and deeds to support the book's information. In other cases, I just assumed those were available without really checking. This means I'll probably be generating a longer "to do" list on some of the old research I'm reviewing.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Religion in North Carolina

Every once in awhile, you stumble across a collection so rich that it just begs to be shared! Such was the case last weekend when I ran across a collection on Internet Archive called "Religion in North Carolina." Partner institutions for the project are Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University. The collection's description states "the materials in this collection include local church histories, periodicals, clergy biographies, cookbooks, event programs, directories, and much more."

At the time I'm writing this post (in advance), there are 6,222 items in the collection. That's pretty amazing. The collection has seven collections within it. I will list each and give a few examples of materials included.

Meetings, Proceedings, and Conference Reports (2727 items)

Minutes of the Buncombe Baptist Association of Buncombe County, 1931-1940
Minutes of the United Evangelical Lutheran Synod of North America, 1930
Minutes of the Salem Presbytery

Church and Religious Body Histories (1102 items)

Henry R. Mathis. Along the Border: a History of Virgilina, Virginia and the Surrounding Area in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties in Virginia and Person and Granville Counties in North Carolina.
Winnie Wills Broglin. Antioch United Methodist Church, Hot Springs, North Carolina: Built on Faith.
Adelaide I. Fries. Records of the Moravians in North Carolina: volume II, 1752-1775.

Newsletters, Newspapers, and Serial Publications (1520 items)

Zion's Landmark (vol.  33, 1899-1900)
American Jewish Times-Outlook (1961-1962)
The Primitive Baptist (vol. 6, 1841)

Ephemerals: Cookbooks, Event Programs, and Directories (368 items)

St. Peter's Episcopal Church (Washington, N.C.) Keys to the Kitchen
O. Norris Smith and Rebecca H. Smith. Family Burying Grounds and Abandoned Church Cemeteries in Guilford County, N.C. and Immediate Environs
Dedication Service of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Creech Road, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sunday, August 28, 1977

Clergy Autobiographical and Biographical Materials: Journals, Testimonies, Etc. (152 items)

M. W. Williams and George W. Watkins. Who's Who Among North Carolina Negro Baptists with a Brief History of Negro Baptist Organizations
C. T. Thrift. Robert Paine. Methodist Bishop: a Great North Carolinian, Person's Greatest Son
S. C. Ray. I'm Glad I Stayed, 1949-1979

Theosophy, Philosophy, Psychology & Religion (77 items)

Claude E. Spencer. Periodicals of the Disciples of Christ and Related Religious Groups
Alva Washington Plyler. What Western North Carolina Owes
James O. Kelly. Essay on Negro-Slavery

Sermons of North Carolina (111 items)

R. H. Morrison. Funeral Sermon of the Rev. John Robinson, D.D., Late Pastor of Poplar Tent Church, Preached at Poplar Tent, February 22d, 1844
C. Daniel Crews. What It Was, Was Jesus: for the 250th Anniversary Service of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church, Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University, Sunday, November 16, 2003
W. A. Harper. The Spirit of Elon College: An Excellent Spirit

The list above is a mere drop in the bucket of what is available via this resource. I've tried to include materials from many denominations and even from Judaism.