|Photo from the Newfield, NY Central School 1939 Annual|
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I better understand genetic testing thanks to an excellent presentation last Saturday on DNA by Shannon Combs Bennett. If you read Shannon’s recent blog you will note she confesses she was nervous, but from an audience point of view Shannon was nothing less than a experienced, polished, professional sharing her scientific knowledge at a level that novices could easily understand.
The room was packed indicating DNA/Genetic Genealogy is an area of great interest. Thanks to Shannon, we all went home with a much better understanding of the tests available, what each test accomplishes, the unique qualities of the companies that do testing, and genetic related blogs and books available.
She emphasized that DNA testing is only a tool; it will not give you definitive answers. You should couple your DNA test results with your paper genealogy research.
A timeline of genetic history and useful terminology were then provided. I am thankful she provided us with eight pages of backup for her talk!
There are three types of testing:
Autosomal DNA is open to everyone. This test will give you ancestral results back to seven generations. Since each generation loses some of the genetic material from past generations, this test is best combined with your paper research.
Y-DNA is the sex chromosome and is passed from father to son only. You can use this to find your haplotype that may give you origins of ancient male ancestors. When viewing results, there needs to be as few mutations as possible. Shannon had excellent examples of these tests using her own family’s results. These examples provided the ah-ha moment of understanding. She also explained there is a surname study for men that you may want to check out.
mtDNA is a test to trace maternal ancestors. Since mutations in mitochondria are relatively rare, this test is used for deep ancestry research. Researchers believe that everyone is related to “mitochondrial Eve.”
There are four companies doing genetic testing:
FTDNA – Family Tree DNA offers complete genetic testing for genealogy, and we believe at this time they keep the results.
23and Me – This California company does testing for medical history purposes.
AncestryDNA – Primarily autosomal testing, they allow uploads of information from other companies. Their policies are in flux, and as of now they destroy the information soon after. It is a good idea to thoroughly check out any company you are considering for their particular policies.
National Geographic Genographic Project – This multi-year anthropologic genetic study is doing only Y-DNA at this time. Again, projects change so it is your responsibility to do due diligence research.
To assist with your test decision-making Shannon recommended utilizing Tim Janzen’s Autosomal DNA Test Comparison Chart.
This blog lightly skims over Shannon’s presentation. For more information also check out the In-Depth Genealogy website ( http://www.theindepthgenealogist.com/). Shannon writes the tech section of this online genealogy magazine. There are also articles explaining DNA testing.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Mrs. Nathalie Frothingham Baker, 77, of 518 Highland Road died in Tompkins County Hospital Sunday, May 10, 1964. She was the widow of James McFarlan Baker and member of the First Unitarian Church.
She is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Katherine B. Cooke of Ottawa, Canada and Mrs. Margaret McFarlan Kahin of Ithaca; five grandchildren, Nathalie, James and Stephen Cooke, Brian and Sharon Kahin; several nieces and nephews.
Private memorial and burial services will be held at the convenience of the family. Wagner Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc. will be sponsoring their 56th annual conference and reunion at Germanna Community College, Culpepper, Virginia July 19-21, 2013.
The genealogy sessions will be held on Saturday, July 20 and will feature presentations by John Blankenbaker, Doug Harnsberger, Marc Wheat, Nancy Kraus, Katharine Brown, Harold Woodward, Barbara Price and Ann Miller. If you have German ancestors that settled in Virginia this would be a worthwhile conference to attend.
Please check the Germanna Foundation website for further information.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
A universal truth is that you can always learn something at genealogy meetings. So when we packed up our notebooks last night and headed to the monthly genealogy club meeting my husband turned to me and said, “You won’t have to take any notes tonight.” The reason was that he was giving the presentation, “Making Sense of the Census,” a presentation I had heard many times before. I am glad I didn’t heed that advice, because one always learns something at genealogy meetings.
During the business meeting one gentleman presented a conundrum. He had recently met with an older woman who had a large trunk full of family papers. Her main concern was getting some money for them. He brought this situation to the club hoping for some alternative propositions. Unfortunately the only one he had told her, donate the family papers to the Heritage Center, was the only and best option the club could suggest.
Heritage Center. We have been here a year and I had never heard of this organization.
The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is located in downtown Fredericksburg and its mission is to preserve historical papers and photographs for the following counties: Caroline, Stafford, King George, Spotsylvania and the City of Fredericksburg. It is the largest regional archives in the state of Virginia.
You can bet my next stop is the Heritage Center to see what they have and maybe check out their volunteer opportunities.
Monday, May 6, 2013
“New York gets a bad rap,” stated Laura DeGrazia as she began her session, but in fact New York State has many resources available for genealogical research.
Our last day at NERGC consisted of three consecutive sessions on researching in New York State. The first session, “But She Died in Upstate NY in the 1850s- How Can I identify her Parents?” was presented by David Quimette, CG.
By applying sound research principles, David was successful in identifying his relative’s maiden name, even though the area was considered “frontier” and had few vital, church, or government records.
He had to work collateral lines, researching siblings and their descendants, keeping track of naming patterns, tracking neighbors (sometimes a man would marry the girl “next door,”), transcribing records fully, and reading and rereading those documents searching for clues he may have missed. This is especially difficult when the married woman dies young, her husband remarries, and they are poor.
It helps to study the local history, customs, naming patterns and work with the local historical society for any information they may have. Sometimes you have to research neighboring localities as boundary lines changed and people moved back and forth. This particular family David was searching went back and forth from New York to Vermont, to Canada. Because of this he had to take into account name variations (as well as dit names) that might have been used in each locality. And don’t overlook the obvious – cemeteries.
The second session, “Spanning the Great New York Abyss: Connecting Generations When No Vital Records Exist,” was presented by Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG.
Laura reminded the audience that New York State vital records began in June 1880 for deaths, and in 1881 for marriages and births, although she admitted early compliance was poor. With that in mind, she suggested building a bridge to your ancestor by using alternative sources and indirect evidence. A timeline of indirect evidence information might prove helpful.
- NYS Census. These were taken from 1855 to 1925. A good way to track people between the Federal Census years.
- Estate, wills, administration, probate. If filed in 1830 or later, check petition for probate or petition of letters. FamilySearch.org has many online.
- Church Records. Baptism and marriage show parent names. An article I found on this might be helpful.
- Cemetery office. They might have a maiden name in their records.
- Newspapers. The Fulton History website was mentioned as an important source. This site began with small town newspapers from Upstate New York, but has since included newspapers from New York City and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
- City directories. Sometimes gives previous address; moved, widow of information.
- Bible Records; check PERSI for “[name] bible;” the DAR has an ongoing project at their library in Washington.
- Immigrant Savings Bank.
- Land records. Some spell out relationships.
For Upstate New York records, contact the New York State Library in Albany; for New York City records, the Municipal Archives on Chambers Street in Manhattan.
Laura recommended a Family History Library video “Inferential Genealogy” presented by Tom Jones. Not always does Less equal More, consequently the new Family History web page does not make finding this video easy. Here is what you need to do:
On the front page, in the upper right corner click on “Get Help.”
At bottom left click on “Help Center.”
Far right, “Learning Center.”
Click on “Take a Course.”
In the box type in “Inferential Genealogy.” Good luck!!
The third session was “Weaving Together New York’s Metro Area,” presented by Linda McMeniman, PhD and Jill E. Martin, JD.
Being an “Upstate” person I really appreciated the New York City history introduction provided in this session. I learned that 1898 was the watershed year for the city’s boundary changes. A researcher needs to keep that date in mind when searching for records.
The three neighboring suburban counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk are important as family members moved back and forth.
By 1851 burials were banned in Manhattan. Large city cemeteries are Greenwood and Evergreen. During Q&A they confirmed that the stamp “City Cemetery” on Katherine Nunn’s death certificate probably meant Hart Island. Katherine died at the Manhattan State Hospital in May 1917, and was the mother of the Nunn children (including my grandfather) that were sent to St. Joseph’s Home in Peekskill in June 1900.
Many NYC vital records for early 1900s are on the SteveMorse.org website.
The Brooklyn Public Library is in the process of digitizing the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, with about half the project completed at this time.
These three sessions gave me lots of helpful insights into tracing my own New York State ancestors.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
After learning so much from Laura DiGrazia on how to conduct a reasonably exhaustive search, my next session at NERGC was with F. Warren Bittner.
Mr. Bittner began his presentation with this statement: “The goal of family history is to establish identity and prove relationships. If this goal is not met, all other family history goals and activities are a waste.” So how do you do this?
The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is at the top of the list, and then Mr. Bittner drilled down. The key is to make sure evidence is scrutinized for details and compared with other evidence.
Keep track of your sources: Are they original or derivative?
Information: Is it primary or secondary?
Evidence: Direct (usually enough to answer the research question) or indirect (combination of sources)? Since people live complicated lives, moving, marrying, etc., Mr. Bittner warns that direct evidence may cause problems if there is conflicting information, so verify by utilizing sources of indirect evidence. Maybe a timeline of evidence sources could help?
Don’t be lured into thinking that successful research only consists of finding birth, death and marriage dates and if those come from direct evidence, they don’t need to be analyzed, nor does a written summary need to be done.
“Complex Evidence must include the analysis of evidence, the comparison between pieces noting the similarity and differences, and the resolution of conflicts.”
And last but not least, “Complex evidence without a written proof summary does NOT establish relationships or prove identity. The written summary of evidence is essential for proof of relationships.”