Thursday, November 29, 2012

Another interesting connection

I'm still going through my Craddock files (moving and being briefly hospitalized have set me back a little), but I found this interesting connection today that I had to share. While going through the newspaper articles that mention Edward and Grace (Craddock) Cote (and I have 52 of them!) I found one from the Montana Standard for 10 November 1957 that mentioned a party given for a lady retiring after working for the telephone company in Montana (no company name was given, so I'm guessing there was just one). Ed Cote presented the retiree an award on behalf of the company, and then everyone stayed after for a "social hour". Among those who attended the party were Mrs. Martha Basolo, and Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Basolo. B.J. Basolo was Batista J. Basolo, the son of Martha Basolo (and maybe an employee of the company with his mother?). He was married to Berta Talbott, sister of Lucy Talbott, who married Grace (Craddock) Cote's father Ernest in 1948! So Grace was at the party with the sister and brother-in-law of her father's second wife! Crazy, huh? I wonder if they sat at the same table?

UPDATE: I just found out that the woman honored at the dinner was Margaret (Basolo) Sprague, a sister of Batista Basolo. Curiouser and curiouser!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Craddocks


This is a photo of my great-great-grandmother, Philena (Beilstein) Craddock and my great-grandmother Edna (Craddock) Moore. Edna would have been less than a year old here. Isn't she cute?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Genes Day update

Had a lot going on in my DNA research this week. I started digging a little deeper into my Y-DNA results, to get a better idea of my haplogroup and subclade. By the by, when I'm talking about "my" Y-DNA results, I'm actually referring to a test taken by my paternal grandfather. But, since he and I have identical Y-DNA results (I compared my results from SMGF to his and they were a perfect match) for the rest of this post I'll be referring to "my"results, since they are the exact same as my grandpa's.

23andMe defined my Y-DNA haplogroup as R1b1b2a1a1d1*, a rather long name that didn't tell me much of anything. It also turns out to be an older name, as 23andMe is using an outdated version of the Y-DNA haplogroup tree (someone told me 2008? I don't know for sure, but I have been repeatedly told it's not current). Family Tree DNA defined my Y-DNA haplogroup as R1b1a2, but I was told that they weren't using the most recent version of the Y-DNA tree either. As I was repeatedly referred to the ISOGG website, I hopped over there, pulled up the 2012 Y-DNA SNP tree, and started trying to find my SNPs (23andMe is very helpful on this end, and gives you a list of SNPs you've tested positive for). I didn't know what information to look for exactly, or where my SNPs fit on the tree, so I wrote some of them down and emailed the Newbie DNA mailing list I'm on and asked for some help. I was told by some very helpful people that one of my SNPs, M405 was also known as U106, and was a major branch of the Y-DNA tree. They suggested I check and see what SNPs downstream from there I tested positive for. 

So, I went back to the ISOGG tree, found U106, and started checking downward from there. In addition to the most current Y-DNA tree, ISOGG also has a SNP index, which gives all the names for each SNP (like how U106 and M405 are the same SNP), and sometimes its "address" on the Y-DNA chromosome. It's a good thing they post the address, because that's how 23andMe lets you look up SNPs they test for; you can't search by the shorthand name (like U106). So I started pulling up all the SNPs I could that were listed under U106, and eventually narrowed down my positives to just two more - L48 and L47. So I now knew my most recent Y-DNA SNP was L47. Cool! I went back to the mailing list and told my new friend what I'd discovered. He gave me the numbers for four more SNPs that were downstream of L47 - L44, L45, L46, and Z159. The first three were all tested by 23andMe, and they all came up negative on my test. The last one was not tested by 23andMe, so I don't know if I tested positive for it or not. My mailing list buddy said there was a mailing list specifically for U106, and that I should check with them to see if testing specifically for Z159 would be a good idea. 

I joined the U106 mailing list and told them what my plan was - since I had tested positive for L48 and L47 and negative for all other SNPs under U106, I was going to test for Z159 and see if that's where my branch on the Y-DNA tree terminated. They said it was a good plan, and that I should go for it. I also found there is a U106 DNA project at FTDNA and joined it. The admin for the project also agreed that I should test for Z159, as all of their project members who tested L47+ and negative for all other SNPs (with the exception of one guy) had tested positive for Z159. I figured since the test was only $30, and that there were no other SNPs to test for under Z159 (at least at this point), and I really wanted to know exactly where on the Y-DNA tree my line fit, I'd go for it. I ordered the test on Tuesday, and was all excited to see how long it would be before the results came back. I was thinking somewhere between a few hours and Friday. Imagine how I felt when the test finally hit my "pending lab results" screen and the estimated completion date was in December! Well, since I can't go any further on that research right now, time to move on...

I spent a little time going back through Lisa's matches on AncestryDNA, to see if there were any other connections that suggested a common ancestor. Sadly, there weren't. I still need to do more with the two matches it already gave me though. Most of the surname matches are with common names like Johnson, Smith, etc. so I haven't followed up too closely with them. I did write to all of those who have locked/private trees to ask if we could put our heads together to try and find the matches. So far, no one has responded yet. 

Also regarding my wife's DNA, my friend CeCe Moore posted a link in the DNA Newbie mailing list to this very interesting article by Roberta Estes, another genetic genealogist. Basically, she calls AncestryDNA's bluff on the massive amounts of Scandinavian DNA, saying that it's not a new discovery that everyone should ooh and ah about, it's an error and Ancestry needs to go back to the drawing board with their ethnic analysis. Harsh words, but perhaps necessary. I mean, I know my wife does not have 73% Scandinavian ancestry. I need to write them and ask them to reanalyze it. People speaking out caused them to announce the release of the raw DNA data sometime in early 2013. If enough people demand they redo their ethnicity tool, they'll have to do something about it. 

And last but certainly not least, through the generous funding of a relative, I ordered a Relative Finder test for a possible Harris connection. I did some research on the ancestry of this possible relative and was able to go back pretty far, even to the the late 1700s on line. I'm really excited for this one, and hoping that the test will give me some answers on who and where my Harris relatives are. The lab received the test on the 23rd, so the results will hopefully be in sometime around election day. Boy, imagine if they came in that day! I'd be up all night both waiting for election results, and delving into DNA test results. Might have to pull an all-nighter on that one! 

That's all the DNA news for now. Since I'm  back to waiting for results, I'll try contacting those two matches of Lisa's, and probably get back to my documentation project. Just a few more folders to go, but they're big ones - Beilstein, Bergstad, Berry, Crawford, and Craddock. If memory serves, Beilstein, Bergstad and Berry should all be done, but I'll need to double check them to make sure. I know I didn't get through Craddock, and that's a big one. Crawford, don't have too much on them, so that one should be pretty short. And then I'll be done!! I will finally know where I stand on all my lines, with every discovery so far documented as best I can at this point. That will be a happy day. It would be great to start 2013 fresh, to pick a line to research and just research, without worrying whether I've entered everything on that person or family yet. That's my goal for the rest of 2012 - to get my documentation done. Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Clarence "Unc" Morris

This is a photo of my great-grandma Rosie (Sitzman) Wagner's second husband, Clarence Morris, whom we all called Unc. I think the nickname comes from my aunt Kathy Smith, who couldn't pronounce Clarence when my dad's family knew him in the 1950s and 60s. This picture comes from February 1969, and shows Unc in some of his fraternal order's finery. I'm not sure what order this is from though. My grandpa says Unc was a Mason, like my grandpa was, but I think the hat says "Bagdad" and it looks like it has a picture of an Arabian-style sword. I'll have to Google it and see what I come up with.
This is a photo of Donald "Bill" Wagner, his sister-in-law Claire (Thacker) Wagner (wife of his brother Ralph), and Unc, from 1978. This is more how I remember Grandpa Unc. He was always nice to me, and my folks still have some of the letters he wrote me when I was little. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 90.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Red Corn


This is an undated photo of my wife's earliest known Native American ancestor, Wy-e-gla-in-kah, or Red Corn in English. He was born about 1854, had three children with his first wife Me-tsa-he (after she died he married twice more), and died 9 Jan 1927 in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Genes Day - A long overdue DNA update

I am finally finished updating my database with all the Groff family files I've collected (and some I dug up while going through those I've already gathered) so it's time to get back into DNA research! There have been some big developments over the last few months.

I realize I left on a cliffhanger (well, hillhanger more like). I did get the results in for that Harris cousin, and she turned out to not be related to us after all. Bit of a letdown, as these tests are not cheap, but it is what it is. I'm also still trying to figure out the ethnicity calculations for my grandma's test, as everywhere I post the results, I seem to get different answers - 23andMe, GedMatch, Family Tree DNA all have different answers for the same data. There's a lot of factors that play in to the calculations, I get that, and I don't know that they'll ever be able to say "this part of your DNA is German, this is Irish, etc" with any degree of certainty. But there should be at least a general level of consensus shouldn't there? How do I know who is right, when all the answers conflict so much?

On a related note, I got a message from a new match on my mom's DNA test, wanting to compare genomes. At first, I figured this would be like all the other matches I get emailed about - one tiny segment barely large enough to qualify for a place at the end of mom's matches list. Instead, I was shocked to see that this was mom's third closest match, second only to her mom and first cousin! The new match shares a total of nine segments, for a total percentage of 2.15%! That puts the match right between the expected percentages for a second cousin (3.125%) and a second cousin once removed (1.563%). I wonder how you could fall in between those numbers like that? Anyway, I compared her data to my maternal grandma, and there was no match at all, so that means this is a match on my maternal grandfather's side. I got even more excited when I saw that one of the match's ancestral surnames was Hammer - the maiden name of my mom's paternal grandmother! So I hurriedly wrote this match an email with some info on my Hammers and...nothing. No response. After three days, I wrote a follow-up email, and this time...I got nothing. Again. I can't do much else with this connection until she writes me back. So, with the excitement slowly fading into "why the heck would you want to share genome data but not email me?" I've decided to pass the wait by looking back into some of my other tests, and going deeper into those results.

My wife Lisa also took a DNA test recently! I FINALLY got my AncestryDNA invitation and decided it would be best spent by testing a whole new branch of my family tree - hers. I'm really glad I did, because it's given me a chance to try out a new DNA product on a family line that I haven't done any DNA research on yet. Her results have been interesting, to say the least.

First up was her ethnicity. From what I knew of her ancestral background, I expected 88% European and 12% Native American, as she has one great-grandparent who was full-blood Native American (with a registered tribal membership and everything). What I got was 73% Scandinavian, 15% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus, and 12% uncertain. I was completely puzzled - from I've seen of her ancestry so far, she doesn't have any Scandinavian ancestry. I've read about Ancestry showing those with UK roots to have a higher percentage of Scandinavian heritage than may be completely accurate. But 73%??? With not a single ancestor or name indicating anyone from any Scandinavian country? Even if somehow every English ancestor of hers was a direct descendant of Vikings, this would seem too high. To be perfectly honest, I was very disappointed when I read that, because it made me think "well, this is almost completely off. Now what do I do with it?" I know Ancestry has some upgrades in the works, so I'll reserve final judgment on their ethnicity analysis for now.

The Persian/Turkish/Caucasus part of her ethnicity, I have no idea where that could be from either. It may be there's a break in the chain in one of her lines that no one knows about. That's always a possibility, I understand that. One of her 3rd-great-grandfathers was illegitimate, with no known record of who the father is, but that wouldn't account for 15% of her genetic heritage even if the father was a full-blood Turk. As far as I know, all of her ancestors (aside from the Native Americans) were from northern and central Europe - predominantly England and Germany, probably Ireland as well. So there's another big chunk of her ethnicity that just doesn't make sense, unless we have her entire tree wrong. And I hope and pray that that's NOT the case.

As for the uncertain, I'm willing to bet that that's her Native American side. The percentage is just right, and given North American tribes' reluctance and even refusal to do DNA testing, it makes sense that this part of ancestry would come up as "uncertain."

One of the really cool things with AncestryDNA is it compares your trees with those of your matches, and can tell you surnames you have in common. If it can pinpoint an ancestor in common, it will tell you who they are, and show you the lines of descent to each of you, and what your resulting relationship is. You can then compare that prediction against the prediction based on the percentage of shared DNA. How cool is that? Sadly they won't tell you how much DNA you share, though Ancestry has stated they will be releasing the raw DNA data to its customers sometime next year. Hopefully they'll do it in a way that will allow the data to be used in GedMatch, FTDNA, and other places. So far, I've found two matches that have an ancestor in common! One of them traces back to Lisa's 4th-great-grandfather on her father's side, William Qualls. The other is a closer match, tracing back to Lisa's 2nd-great-grandfather on her mom's side, Thomas Berry Hudson. The Qualls relative would be Lisa's fourth cousin once removed, and the predicted relationship is 4th-6th cousin, so that seems right on the money. The other one would be a second cousin once removed, but the predicted relationship is fourth cousin. A second cousin once removed would normally share about 1.563% of their DNA, while a fourth cousin would share about .195%. That's a pretty big difference, one where having access to the raw data would really come in handy. I need to set aside some time to contact these persons and see if we can't compare notes and figure out exactly how we connect, and what we each have in terms of documentation.

While looking at all of this, I realized something. I've yet to fully document everything in my wife's tree as I received it from her family when we got married (as you know, I've been working the last 18 months just to document my own tree with the stuff I've already collected and I'm still not quite done with that project). But I realized her tree is really different than mine in one major way - I've documented her 16 great-great-grandparents, and every one of them was born in the US. Some of the links to her 3rd-great-grandparents are a little shaky still, but all of 24 that I have documented so far were born in the US as well. Contrast that to my tree, where three of my 2nd-great-grandparents were born in Canada (two of which were children of European immigrants, with the other being a grandchild of immigrants), four were born in Europe, and another three were born in the US but were children of European immigrants. That means that while all of my wife's lines have been in the US since at least her 2nd- or even 3rd-great-grandparents' time, 10 of my 16 lines in the same generation had been in the US only one generation or less. It's fascinating to think of the complex choreography of ancestors making their way to the US at different times, over different routes, probably for vastly different reasons. I am grateful for what DNA and genetic genealogy has taught me about my ancestry so far, and am greatly anticipating what insights and discoveries await!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Gold Rush!

I've finished updating my database with all my Gibson-related files, and have started in on the Groff stuff. My Groff line starts with my third-great-grandmother Mary Groff, wife of Adoniram Ami Shute, and goes back to, well, her father, Paul Groff. I haven't been able to document who Paul's parents are yet, but I do know that he was from New York. While going through my Groff census records, I came across something very interesting today.

My ancestor Mary had a sister named Eldora who was about three years younger than she was, born in Minnesota in July 1860. She married Judson Clark about 1878 and they had four kids - Judson Jr, Susan, Jerome, and Bertha. They moved out to Thurston County, Washington sometime between 1887 and 1898. Her parents, brother George, and sister Ida all moved out there around the same time. Eldora's husband Judson, however, did something that, so far as I know, no one else in my family tree did - he left his family behind for a couple years and went off to join the gold rush. Not the gold rush in California, as he wasn't even born yet when that one started, but one that started about 50 years later in Alaska.

I had found Judson and Eldora in the 1900 census, all listed together Bucoda, Washington. But as I went through my other census records, I realized I had another 1900 census for Judson, but from Alaska, not Washington. At first, I wondered if I had the wrong person, same name but different guy. But aside from the name, the birth date matched - October 1854; both censuses listed Pennsylvania as the birth place; and the Alaska census had a couple of unique columns - one for "date of locating in Alaska," which was March 1898; another column labeled "post office address at home" listed Judson's home address as Tenino, Washington, (which is actually just 4 miles from Bucoda); and another column asked for occupation, not once but twice - at home and in Alaska. The 'at home' occupations listed for the 22 people in the district were pretty varied - farmer (which Judson said he was), sailor, druggist, clerk, salesman, locksmith, and stock raiser among them. But in the column for 'in Alaska', everyone (with one exception) had the exact same occupation - miner. According to Wikipedia, the Klondike gold rush (which was centered some ways to the northeast of where Judson was living in 1900) really picked up between 1896 and 1898, which is when Judson came to Alaska. It all seems to fit together - the personal details all matched, virtually all the residents of the district having 'miner' as their occupation, and the location (generally speaking) and time period matched what I have read about the Klondike gold rush. Given that he was living in Alaska when the census was taken, his wife Eldora (or whoever gave the details given in the census) must have listed him as still living in Washington even though he physically hadn't been in Washington since at least March 1898. He did eventually return to Washington, as I've found him in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses there.

I haven't found anything that shows whether or not he struck it rich up in Alaska. The 1910-1930 censuses just show him and his wife living together alone. But whether he did or not, I'm glad he made it back home to his family. Life in prospecting towns apparently wasn't safe or sanitary, so I'm happy with the fact that he made it home and lived a long life after his gold rush days were over.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Adoniram Shute and Mary Groff

This is a photo of my third-great-grandparents, Adoniram Shute and his wife, Mary Groff. I don't have a date on it, but given that they were both born in the 1850s, and they look to be somewhere around 30 years old, I would guess this is from around 1885.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Madness Monday - Those crazy Frenchmen (no, seriously)

I've been dabbling in French-Canadian genealogy, researching the Vadnais family. They married into the Harrises when William Vadnais (son of Richard Vadnais and Elinore Bissette) married Charlotte Harris (daughter of Frank Harris and Charlotte Scribner). I wanted to know more about his family, where they came from, and see if I couldn't stretch my research skills about by trying something I've never tried before - researching French-Canadians.

I've looked into this family a little bit previously. I'd found Elinore and her two kids, William and Florence, living in Montana in the 1910 census, and William and his sister in 1920 (she'd married Earl Miller by then). Then I found a marriage record for their mother Elinore to another French-Canadian named Louis Sicard, as well as her death record in 1919. I thought I'd try going into some newspapers and see what they had to say, knowing that they'd given me a lot of insight in other branches of my family. What I found literally blew me away.

I found an article from 1914 about the handling of Richard Vadnais' estate in Alberta, Canada, stating that Richard's brother Polydor Vadnais was named executor of the estate but had quit, leaving the courts to handle it. It also stated that Richard was murdered, but no particulars were known. I did a double- (and probably triple-) take at that - murdered?? Seriously? I immediately jumped into research mode and started digging for all the newspaper articles I could find, and realizing that most of them would be in Canadian newspapers (given that's where the estate and murder took place), I went to Newspaper Archive and started looking.

The longer I looked, the more I found, and the more complicated the story became. I wish I had the time to go into all the particulars, and maybe someday I will, but here's the gist of it:

Richard Vadnais and his wife Elinore (Bissette) Vadnais had some kind of falling out in 1908, which led to Elinore and her brother attacking Richard, with Richard being shot twice. He survived and recovered quickly, though his wife left him for a time. She was prosecuted for the attack but found not guilty, and the couple reunited. Several months later, while at dinner, Richard was shot by an unknown person, lived for a couple weeks, and then died. His wife was accused again, and was again found not guilty. She then moved to Montana, married a man named Louis Sicord, and died in 1919. It sounds like a crazy movie plot, doesn't it?

Some of the articles I read mentioned Elinore's brother but never by name. They also talked about how she came from a big family, and that her brother had a big family of his own, but also didn't name anyone. The only lead I had on her past was her marriage record to Louis, which listed her parents' names Moise Vadnais and Salatique Distraase. I figured the Vadnais name had to be an error, as the newspaper articles were consistent in naming her brother as Bissett or Mr. Bissett. My guess was the person taking the info down asked for her name (Elinore Vadnais) and her father's name (Moise), so the recorder assumed her father's last name was Vadnais. So I tried looking for Moise Bissett, but couldn't find anything that stood out and said "this is the right family." So I put them on hold for a while.

Then last night, while going through my Vadnais records, I tried searching for more newspaper records, playing with the keyword search. I searched for various combinations of Bissett, Vadnais, Richard, and murder, and found several more articles I had missed last time. Two of them proved key in finding Elinore's family. One actually named the brother involved in the first shooting in 1908 - Theodule Bissett. The other mentioned a brother-in-law of Elinore and Theodule's who was involved in the trial, and gave his name as Isaie Daignault, and that he and his wife had nine children. I went looking in the 1911 census and found Isaie and Alphonsine Daignault, living in Alberta with 11 children, of whom 9 were born before August 1908, when the shooting happened. So now I had three siblings to look for - Elinore, Theodule, and Alphonsine Bissett, children of Moise and Salatique.

I hurriedly went to the 1881 census, knowing that Elinore was still single, and figuring Theodule and Alphonsine would be as well. It didn't take me long to find them - Moise and Scholastique Bessette, living in Quebec where they should be. There were a lot more siblings too - Pierre, Henri, Rosanna, Jean Baptiste, and a couple that I can't read yet. I can tell you I did the genealogy happy dance when I found this census - I finally had some concrete info on Elinore's background! Elinore's name was spelled Lionore, so I never would have found her.  Now that I knew who to look for and where, and I went and got the 1871 census as well, and was surprised to find even more siblings - Edmond, Adilde, Joseph, and Delima. This was a large family! I still have to go through these censuses and pull all the details out, and I would really like to look for the 1861 as well. But right now, I'm just happy to have some additional documents on the Bissette side of the Vadnais family, especially since they aren't about a murder or attempted murder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday - Pay attention to your calendar

I'm finally caught up on entering all my Zitzmann family info! Hooray! Now I'm starting on the Lutheran church parish records from Poland I've found recently from the FHL microfilms I ordered back in July.

I started working on the first one that I could easily tell was connected to my family - a birth record for Michael Joseph, son of Ludwig Heinrich Joseph and Justine Witt, born in 1861 in Kepa Kikolska, Nowy Dwór parish, Warszawa district (county?), Poland. This was an interesting record for several reasons. One, I already had a Michael Joseph born to Ludwig and Justine, but in 1884 in Ulanowka, Ukraine. That Michael immigrated to Canada, where he died in 1905. This new Michael's birth predates that of Gottlieb Joseph, who I thought was Ludwig and Justine's oldest child. I don't know yet what happened to him, if he died young or what. But it seems something must have happened to him, as they reused the name 23 years later, which so far I've only seen in cases where the original name holder had died.

One thing that kind of threw me was the transcription of the birth dates (yes dates - more on that below) I received from a volunteer website was a little bit off. I don't fault them at all - the handwriting is old and hard to read, and I don't know any Polish myself, so I'm in no position to be critical of someone who volunteered time and expertise to help me understand this record. But I was able to take the volunteer's transcription and play around with Google Translate until I came up with what seemed to be the correct transcription of the birth dates, in that it both looked like what was written in the record itself, and Google Translate recognized and was able to translate the words.

The other thing that threw me was the birth record gave two separate birth dates for Michael - August 23rd and September 4th, with no explanation for the apparent discrepancy. I sat there for a while, puzzled as to why it would give two birth dates almost two weeks apart, when it suddenly dawned on me - the calendar change! I remember learning in my genealogy classes at BYU about how many European countries that had been using the Julian calendar changed their calendar system to the Gregorian calendar. The US made its change in 1752, even though the Gregorian calendar was created in the late 1500s. I also remembered hearing that different countries changed their calendars at different times. So I went online and found a calendar converter, and plugged in September 4th for Gregorian, and wouldn't you know it - it came out to be August 23rd in the Julian calendar! I haven't yet looked up which country was in charge of this area of Poland in the 1860s, or when that country changed their calendar, but I feel confident that this is the reason for the dual dates.

While I still have a long ways to go before I can claim to even begin to understand these records and the people that created them, it was a real confidence booster to decipher the dual birth date issue, and to be reasonably sure that I'm correct in my conclusion. I can't wait to see what else these records have to teach me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - Zitzmann family goodness!

Sorry about the missed weeks this month. Between a family vacation to Idaho and Utah, DNA test results (which I will blog about soon, promise!), and general life craziness, blogging has fallen to the wayside. But I'm back!

I've blogged before about how much info I've found on the Actapublica.eu site about my Zitzmann family line. I'm still not done going through all the records I've found, but I wanted to give a general idea on just how much information has come my way. Before this June, when my Zitzmann cousin pointed me to all these records, my great-great-grandma Mary (Zitzmann) Hoffman's family tree looked liked this:


You can see I really had nothing except the names of Mary's parents, taken from her marriage and death records. Now that I've entered pretty much all the direct line records, this is what Mary's tree looks like:

Not only do I have much more info on her parents (including their original German names) but also all of her grandparents, great-grandparents, and 6 of her 16 great-great-grandparents! I couldn't fit him in the shot, but I also have one 3rd-great-grandparent, Andreas Seitz, father of Martin Seitz. Where I have dates for them, Mary's great-grandparents were born in the 1700s! When I started researching my family history, I never imagined I'd be able to take her family back past Mary herself, given how she refused to say anything about where she came from, or to even let her daughters say anything. But now I've got four and five generations of Mary's ancestry!

I've still got a lot more details to pull from these records. I've got records for almost all of Mary's siblings, as well as some aunts, uncles, and cousins. The script is hard to read, but I'm learning. There are details about which midwife oversaw which birth, info about the priests coming to do official visitations and verifying the records, and who performed the baptisms and marriages recorded, etc., all of which I want to learn about. But I've got so much else I need to catch up on - the church records from Poland I've found in my Joseph research, making more use of the DNA test results (especially the mtDNA and Y-DNA tests), and continuing the review and entry of the other records I've collected over the last 12 years. There's plenty of work to do, but it's good work, and I love it!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Genes Day Friday - The more I learn, the more I need to learn

I've been working like crazy to get the data I've discovered on my Zitzmann line entered, so I don't have too much to update on my genetic genealogy journey this week. I do have a few things though.

I received an email on 6-29 that the DNA sample for my Harris cousin (on my maternal grandma's side) was received at 23andMe! So that makes today the end of week 1 of waiting. Only 1-2 more weeks, and I'll have the next big piece of my missing Native American DNA puzzle to play with.

I also received notice that ALL my mtDNA results were in! That gives me three tests to look at - my maternal grandmother, paternal grandfather, and my dad. I've downloaded the certificates from FTDNA, and took a quick look at the results lists. There weren't too many for two of them, actually - grandpa had 15, and my dad had 5. My grandma's test had 70 matches though. However, as the mtDNA tests only checked HVR1, I'll need to upgrade the tests to see how close these matches are. That's kind of on the back burner though, as I still have a few living relatives that I want to have tested before I worry about upgrading tests that have already been taken.

One thing I did notice was that my maternal grandma is in haplogroup H (not H3, as 23andMe had guessed from her autosomal results). That puts me in H as well. Interesting! Brian Sykes named the H haplogroup Helena, which turns out to be the capital city of the state I was born in - Montana. Not that that means anything, but it's fun little trivia.

I made another little discovery this week. I had the idea to go on 23andMe's advanced inheritance finder and see how a couple of my grandpa's matches matched each other, instead of my grandpa. They both matched my grandpa at the same place on chromosome 1, and I wondered if they matched each other more or less than they matched him. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they didn't match each other at all. At first I thought maybe I had selected the wrong people, but when I checked my spreadsheet, I confirmed I had the right matches. They had almost identical starting and ending points on the same chromosome, so how could they not match? That's when it hit me - each chromosome is made up of two halves, one from the mom and one from the dad. Despite the starting and ending points being the same, these two matches shared DNA with two separate branches of my grandpa's family, one maternal and one paternal. It had never occurred to me that this could happen, and it's made me rethink all of the matches I've linked to so far. Now, in addition to seeing how they match my relative, I'll also have to see how they match each other. I did this with a couple other sets of matches who matched grandpa at the same place on the same chromosome, and found that most of them did match each other, though not all did. It'll be interesting to go back over the rest of them and see what else I can discover.

That's all for the DNA news this week. I'm hoping that by this time next week I'll have my Harris test results, but if not, I have plenty of other things to keep me busy.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Everything I ever wanted and more

I got some great news this week - the results for my Joseph cousin's autosomal DNA test came in! This was kind of a moment of truth for me - it was the first time I'd asked a relative more distant than a grandparent to take a DNA test, and I was hoping to prove the relationship we'd already documented on paper - that this relative was, in fact, my paternal grandfather's 2nd cousin. According to CeCe Moore, 2nd cousins share roughly 3.125% of their DNA. This would be my biggest match yet - even the cousin that helped me find so much data on my paternal grandmother's Zitzmann line only shared 0.77% of my grandma's DNA over four segments. When I went online to check this cousin's results, the percentages weren't available yet. So I trucked on over to the Family Inheritance: Advanced tool, to get an idea of how much DNA was shared in terms of how many segments and how long they were in cMs. When I saw the results, I was so happy I literally started shouting - nine segments, with a total match of 256 cMs! I knew right then that I had found everything I had hoped to find in this test - great big stretches of Joseph family DNA!! One of the segments was over 68 cM! Two of the segments were less than 10 cM, but the rest were either in the teens, or 49 or higher. The really amazing thing is I can now place these segments of DNA not only in my grandpa's genome, but in the genomes of his mother (Augusta Joseph), her father (Samuel Joseph), and his parents (Ludwig Joseph and Justine Witt). Not only that, they are also found in my grandpa's cousin, her father, and her grandfather, who was one of Samuel's brothers. Six descendants of the same couple, all with the same DNA!

A couple days later, the full results were in, allowing me to see all of this cousin's Relative Finder matches, including my grandpa. According to the Relative Finder, my grandpa and his 2nd cousin share 3.41% of their DNA - in other words, just the right amount for 2nd cousins! I didn't doubt the paper trail that I'd put together with the help of Jim Joseph, Pegge Marjamaa, my parents, and others. But seeing the DNA test confirm what we'd found was just so satisfying, I can't put it in words.

One thing that I'm looking forward to doing now is finding matches that match both my grandpa and his 2nd cousin in those shared segments. From what I understand, that means they'd have to be relatives of either Ludwig Joseph or Justine Witt (I don't have a way of breaking out which one, until I find a documented cousin related to just one of them, who shares one or more of the segments). It would be amazing to find other branches of the family tree out there, other Joseph/Witt descendants, who are researching their tree as well.

On a related note, my maternal grandma's cousin has received, completed, and submitted her autosomal DNA test! I'm still waiting for word from 23andMe that they've received it, after which it'll be another 2-3 weeks before her results come in. I'm eagerly awaiting these results as well - I'm really hoping to find some Native American DNA, proving that our common ancestor, Lisette Rainier, actually was a Native American. This cousin is one generation further removed from Lisette than my grandma (Lisette is her great-great-grandmother), butt 23andMe says they can find Indian DNA going up to five generations back, and this cousin is only four generations removed. It'll be very interesting to see what story her DNA tells. Of course, if I could find a direct maternal descendant of Lisette's (daughter to daughter to daughter link) that would be willing, I'd like to have her take an mtDNA test, just to see where Lisette's mtDNA haplogroup is from. That would be pretty telling as well.

I've still got autosomal resutls for my mom and maternal grandma I need to do more with. But these breakthroughs on my paternal grandparents' sides are just phenomenal and I can't get myself to stop pulling at these threads until they dead end. Why just today, a contributor to the German-Bohemian mailing list I'm on (who has been kind enough to transcribe some of the birth and marriage records for my Zitzmann family I've been finding), emailed me with the birth records for my 3rd-great-grandparents, Johann Zitzmann and Theresia Dorfler! I'd seen their marriage record, but now I have their birth records as well! Not only that, he's offered repeatedly to help me read and understand the records, as he knows I'm at a severe disadvantage in just trying to make out the letters, let alone get them translated. I'm still amazed that one DNA test has led to all of this knowledge and documents about my family's history in Bohemia (a place I have decidedly more interest in now than ever before).

On top of that, I went back to the Family History Center last weekend to see if I could get some more Joseph records out of the microfilms I ordered. Sadly, the scanner was broken, but I did have my phone with me, and I got some pretty good digital images of some records I think may be of relatives of mine. One record was for a known relative - the birth record of Gottlieb Joseph, my great-great-grandfather Samuel Joseph's oldest brother. The records are in Polish, so the record gives his name as Bogumil Jozef. The name Bogumil threw me, and I wondered if this were the same person as my Gottlieb, even though the date (1862) and place (Kepa Kikolska) matched other documents I'd found of Gottlieb. I went to the SGGEE site for help in understand Polish names, and was surprised to see that Bogumil was the Polish equivalent of Theophilus. How could Bogumil, Theophilus, and Gottlieb all be the same name? Then it hit me - Theophilus is Greek for 'friend of God', from Theo - God, and philia - love (like brotherly love). Gottlieb means the same thing! Gott - God, and lieb - love. They literally translated his name from the Greek Theophilus, to German Gottlieb, to Polish Bogumil - Bóg - God, and miłość - love. (For the sake of honesty and full disclosure, I just now looked up the Polish words. But I did know the German and Greek!).

Anyways, things are going better than ever. I have more discoveries than I can shake a stick at, more geography and history and politics and religious jurisdictions to learn about, and more DNA results still to come - aside from the afore mentioned maternal grandma's cousin, I've got mtDNA results pending for my dad, paternal grandpa, and maternal grandma. My grandma and grandpa's results could be ready next week! My dad's probably won't come in until the end of July sometime. But that will give me time to (hopefully) digest some of all this crazy goodness I've found, and organize myself somehow so I can do more with the DNA results I've already got. I know, not likely to happen in just 3 weeks, but I'm sure gonna try!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Swamped

Hard to believe it's already been a week since I was at Jamboree. Things haven't slowed down an inch since then, and have actually gotten crazier. I may not have time today for a full update on my genetic genealogy journey, but here are some quick highlights:

1. I got to attend a whole bunch of DNA-related classes at Jamboree, including Megan Smolenyak's forensic genealogy, Drew Smith's DNA 102, and my personal favorite, the ISOGG meeting. Megan didn't really touch on DNA a whole lot in her class, but in my mind it's so connected to working with the living that I just automatically assume it's part of the toolbox a forensic genealogist would use. Drew Smith's class was great because he actually showed us his Y-DNA test results, and how he used and interpreted them (which is something I'm still struggling with on my Y-DNA results). The ISOGG meeting was the best in my mind, because it was more like a forum - there were four panelists, CeCe Moore, Katherine Borges, Michael MacPherson, and Bennett Greenspan. All of them are experts in various parts of the DNA/genetic genealogy field, and it was a treat to be able to meet them and ask them questions. I realized that one of my goals in doing genetic genealogy is to take the data 23andMe and FTDNA give me, and to be able to assign specific DNA segments to my ancestors, from my parents on back as far as I can work it out. I'd like to be able to start this process with my maternal grandfather, who passed away before I was born. I've had my grandma and mom both take autosomal DNA tests, so by comparing their DNA, I should be able to work out which parts of mom's DNA came from her dad. Of course, I still need to test my aunt and uncle to get a truer picture of what his DNA looked like. I'd love to be able to upload a family tree and assign that data to him, and from there (as I find connections and cousins) to assign those segments to his ancestors. Maybe it's a pipe dream, but it's MY pipe dream, and I WILL get there!

2. While I was at Jamboree, I got to talk to CeCe Moore and a bunch of folks from 23andMe, including Michael MacPherson, who designed a lot of the web features 23andMe uses. It was great to just sit there and pick their brains and get answers to the questions I've had over the last couple months. CeCe was so nice, introducing me to everyone at the 23andMe booth, and making sure I signed up for 23andMe's beta test of their new website features.

3. That's the next cool thing - 23andMe is upgrading their website, adding some seriously awesome features. The Ancestry Painting is going to be more detailed, you can see a map of where your Relative Finder matches are located, and you'll be able to sort your Relative Finder matches by haplogroup, predicted relationship, and lots of other categories. Plus you'll be able to upload a gedcom file of your pedigree! I specifically asked Mike MacPherson about this in the ISOGG meeting, about whether we'll eventually be able to link specific DNA segments to people in our pedigree, and he said that's the direction it's moving. I'm sure there's tons of programming hurdles to overcome before we get to that point, but knowing that it's going to eventually be possible is awesome.

4. You may have noticed the 23andMe banner off to the right there. That's there because - I'm now a 23andMe affiliate! Having used their services for a few months, and especially after getting to meet some of their staff, I'm happy to encourage people to go to them for DNA testing. I'll get a small commission off every sale that's done through my link, so please - help support a poor wannabe genetic genealogist and buy from me! Guess I'll have to start paying attention to how bloggers have to make disclosures about stuff like that from now on. But affiliate status aside, I'm not a fan of hyping one DNA testing company over another. I've had tests done at FTDNA as well, and they've been super helpful in responding to my emails and answering questions. Plus it was great hearing from FTDNA's founder Bennett Greenspan himself about how and why he started FTDNA. Hearing about his passion for genealogy, I'm a bigger fan than ever of testing at more than one company. To me, it's like using Ancestry.com and FamilySearch. They each have their own strengths, and resources that the other doesn't. Why would you choose to not use Ancestry.com just because they aren't FamilySearch?

5. A cousin of my maternal grandma has agreed to take a DNA test as well, to see if we can't find any American Indian DNA on her side of the family. I really appreciate her being willing to do that, and look forward to seeing what her test reveals about our common ancestry.

6. My Joseph cousin's test has been received at 23andMe and is in processing. Just a couple more weeks, and I'll (hopefully) have some big ole chunks of Joseph DNA identified!

7. I still need to buckle down and really go through the GedMatch results for the four tests I have so far. If I could only find that elusive 25th hour of the day...

I think that about sums up all the DNA news for the week. If I was only doing DNA, that'd be enough to keep me busy. But, of course, it's not all I'm doing. I'm still trying to slog my way through my old family files, download the church records for my Zitzmann ancestors in Rosshaupt and analyze and organize the details so I can show my grandma all about her grandma's family, get some records on my Joseph relatives transcribed and translated (just got these this week from some microfilms I ordered from the FHL, and they're in Polish), and find a useful place (hopefully NOT the garage) for all the genealogy-related books I bought at Jamboree, and maybe even finish reading DNA and Social Networking (only 25 pages to go!). WHEW! Now that's what I call a to-do list!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Mike Sitzman, the deer hunter



This is a photo of my 2nd-great-granduncle Sebastian "Mike" Sitzman/Zitzmann. He lived like a true woodsman - he had a log cabin in Divide, Montana, and was (apparently) a very successful hunter. He was born in Rosshaupt, Czech Republic, immigrated to the US in 1891, and died in Montana on 9 July 1945.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Genes Day Friday - A MAJOR and I mean MAJOR breakthrough!

When my great-great-grandmother Mary Sitzman emigrated from Europe, she told her daughters Mary and Rose to stop speaking German and learn English, and to say nothing about the old country. They were basically told to forget everything about where they had come from and never speak of it to anyone. Mary's blackout was so effective that my grandmother was literally told nothing of her mother and grandmother's old homeland. It was as if everything on the chalkboard was erased, the teacher was fired, and the school was closed.

Until this week.

I received an email this week from one of the matches to my grandmother's autosomal DNA test. This cousin said he had ancestry from Rosshaupt, the same tiny German village, now located in the Czech Republic, where Mary and her daughters hailed from. I told him what little I knew - that Mary and her siblings Barbara, Rose, Franz, Sebastian, and Josef had emigrated in waves from 1883 to 1906, that her marriage and death certificates said her parents' names were John Sitzman and Theresa Doffler, and that (according to the immigration records I'd found), the surname was originally spelled Zitzmann.
Using those few details, this cousin looked into the church records posted on http://actapublica.eu, a site which has the church records of many cities surrounding and including Rosshaupt. I have never seen this site before (probably because it's all written in German and Czech, neither of which I know). He quickly found the marriage record for Johan Zitzmann and Theresia Doerfler in 1865, which is just about the time when their oldest known daughter Barbara was born! Not only that, he also found mention of Josef Zitzmann in a book written by an old resident of Rosshaupt, giving the house number he lived in, and stating that Josef had left for America in 1906, the same year my Josef Zitzmann landed at Ellis Island! The match of all these details in time and place seemed too exact to be coincidence - this was my family!


Marriage record for Johan Zitzmann and Theresia Dorfler

This generous cousin has continued to comb through the online records, and has turned up many more marriage and birth records, some apparently going back to the late 1700s! Not only that, he's been giving me details of the political and religious history of the area, and explaining the details of what exactly is recorded in the records. After downloading a few of the records myself, I asked for help from the German-Bohemian mailing list in transcribing them. A very helpful professor has voluntarily gone searching for MORE records, transcribing them, and translating them! All of this has brought many new family names to light - Meyer, Daglmann, Herrmann, Seitz, and others. I can hardly beleive all the information I'm being flooded with!

Back when I started researching my family history 12 years ago, I figured that Mary Sitzman's line would be the one brick wall we'd never be able to break through. How could we, when she committed all those who knew anything to complete silence for their entire lives? However, through miracle of DNA testing, the location of a few key records, and the assistance of some VERY generous and helpful people, that brick wall has not only cracked, in many places that wall is GONE. I'm sure I'll be stumped on a few people on the other side of the wall (I still haven't yet found anything on Mary's husband and father of her two girls yet, for example) but now I know that even seemingly unsolvable mysteries can be solved.

In short - school is back in session!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Genes Day Friday - What to do?

Ok, now I'm starting to feel way over my head. My mom's results came in this past Tuesday (yay!!) and when the Relative Finder results came back, her matches totalled - 15. Not 1500, just 15. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. Her mother's test yielded over 600 matches. How could most of those not match her daughter? Did the DNA get chopped up that badly in transmission? I reached out to most of the contacts, asking to compare notes, and moved on to other things (like uploading the data to Gedmatch, and looking over the ancestry painting and ancestry finding features). One thing immediately stood out - mom had no identifiable Native American DNA either. Makes me wonder if Lisette Rainier (the Indian ancestor) really was Indian after all. I mean, we know so little about her background - she somehow had a French name, and she had some connection with two younger boys, Joseph and Charles Rainier, who were possibly younger brothers or sons. There's a family story that she lived in Utah for a time, and even lived in the home of one of the Mormon pioneers. Is it possible she wasn't Native American at all? She was considered NA, and treated NA, but doesn't mean that she was genetically  NA. This is just speculation on my part, no proof of anything yet. But it does make me wonder.
One thing that wasn't much of a surprise, but still very gratifying to see, was mom's number one country match in Ancestry Finder - Norway. I've known for a long time mom has a lot of Norwegian ancestry, and it's great to see that DNA confirms it. I've been contacted by some of the Norwegian connections, though we have yet to compare family trees or anything yet. Things are looking up though!
I also spent some time this week looking at my grandfather's Y-DNA results. I was pretty surprised that FTDNA didn't email me when the results were ready for viewing (and they still haven't emailed; looks like they're not going to). I quickly looked to see if I had any close matches at FTDNA - nope. Ok, I thought, I'll try Y Search. Close matches there - none. Hrmm...I read that Y-base had been acquired by FTDNA, so their results were likely already incorporated in my first search there. I next tried SMGF, hoping that I would have at least one perfect match there, since I had donated my own DNA via a blood sample over 10 years ago when I was in college. When I hit search, I found my match! Except that it was one value off. I was a 26/27 match for my grandfather. Did that mean my dad or I had introduced a mutation into the Gibson Y-DNA? Wanting to confirm this, I went over to GeneTree (since they have all of SMGF's data and some of their own) and uploaded my grandpa's data there. I found my data there as well, but this time it was a perfect match, 33/33. What was going on? How could I be a 26/27 and  a 33/33 for the same person in the same database? I sent an email to the DNA Newbie list, and Dr. Ann Turner found the solution - I had used the wrong lab standard (NIST, instead of FTDNA). Once I fixed that, I redid the search and saw that I was indeed a perfect match for my grandpa. Guess I'm not a mutant after all (on that line, at least).

Sadly, I remain the only match I've found so far for my grandpa's Y-DNA. I'm still waiting for my results to appear in the Gibson surname project at FTDNA I joined before ordering the test. Maybe I'll have a close match there.

My Joseph cousin got his aunt (his dad's sister, so my grandpa's 2nd cousin) to take my last autosomal DNA test this week, and he graciously paid for the extra shipping from Canada. I'm excited to see what that test tells me about her connection to my grandpa. I am hoping to identify some Joseph DNA from this match, which will help in identifying any other cousins who share the same segments. That's probably going to be about a month before those results come in though, so I've got some time.
Which is good, because I'm kind of starting to feel swamped. I've got four atDNA profiles to manage; four sets of Gedmatch results to sort through, find close connections with, and reach out to; one Y-DNA test to search for data on (probably need to order a deep clade test to see what subclade my Gibson line belongs to); and results pending for 3 mtDNA and an additional atDNA test. Yikes!! What have I gotten myself into? I'm not complaining by any means - I love this stuff, and I'm entertained, enthralled, and entranced by all that I'm learning. I think I've just bitten off more than I can chew very easily. Do I pick one person and focus my DNA research on them? Or do I try to wade a little bit into each person's data? I'm tempted to do the latter, but don't want to confuse the contacts I'm making with each DNA test group. If anyone has a suggestion on how I should proceed, please share it!

In the meantime, I'm working on compiling lists of all the Gedmatch.com matches for each test, then sorting by who is apparently the closest match. I'll start contacting those at the top and work my way down, maybe 5 at a time for each test or something. I've reached out to a couple of my grandpa's matches, and already have 3 people responding. MUCH better results than 23andMe, where I sent out literally hundreds of contact requests and got maybe a dozen responses. I think it's because the two sites have different audiences - Gedmatch seems geared towards those really interested in researching their family history, while 23andMe also includes those who have an interest in disease history, medical research, etc. So while I will still try working the genealogy side of 23andMe, it looks like spending more of my efforts at Gedmatch will pay dividends quicker.

One more thing DNA-related - I'm going to Jamboree next week! There's going to be all kinds of classes on DNA, including some taught by Steve Morse, and even Bennett Greenspan, the president of 23andMe! I also bet that 23andMe will have a booth at the exhibit hall, and plan on spending some time there picking their brains. If only I can think up some intelligent-sounding questions...

Well, that's where things stand for now. Just need to take some time, wrap my brain around the results I've got, and set about finding some relatives that I actually have a connection I can prove on paper. Once I work out how that process works, I'll at least have a model to work from in repeating the process.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Possible Sitzman/Zitzmann friends or relatives


This is one of the many, many photos from one my grandma Blossom's photo albums her mom put together. The only person my grandma recognized in this picture was the woman seated in the middle, who is Mary (Sitzman) Hoffman, her grandmother. The others might be family or friends, but my grandma didn't know them. Given her apparent age, I would put it somewhere around the 1920s.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Lots to see (and not see)

This has been an eventful week for this budding genetic genealogist. First up - new results! My maternal grandmother's results came in this week, and some things that I've learned so far - she has a lot of European DNA, which makes sense, given that I know she has a lot of German ancestry, as well as several lines that probably go back to the United Kingdom. I haven't traced all her lines across the pond yet, but names like Craddock, Fielder, Scribner, Harris, and Martin all seem to point to a UK background. Oddly enough, she only had one match in 23andMe's Ancestry Finder, and that was in Brazil of all places. She also has 636 matches in Relative Finder - more than my paternal grandmother, but less than my paternal grandfather. The cool thing is, one of those matches has the last name Craddock, which was my maternal great-grandmother's maiden name! I emailed him and asked to compare notes, so hopefully he's interested and will write back.
I also learned that my maternal grandma's mtDNA haplogroup is H3. I was just reading about mtDNA haplogroups in DNA and Social Networking literally yesterday, and it said haplogroup H is far and away the most common haplogroup in Europe. I don't know yet if H3 is included in that. I just find it very interesting, mostly because both of my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandmother have German maternal lines, but from Russia/Poland (grandfather), Bohemia/Czech Republic (p.grandma) and Hessen-Darmstadt (m.grandma). Both my paternal grandparents were in U5, with my grandpa being U5b2a1 and grandma being U5a2b. I kind of expected my m.grandma to be U5 as well, so now I've got two major haplogroups to learn about. Because she's my m.grandma, that means H3 is also my own personal mtDNA haplogroup as well, so that's an added incentive to learn about it.

The most intriguing part of the results was what I didn't find. According to the research we've done on her father's side, one of her great-grandmothers was Lisette Rainier, who was either full or half Native American (the documentation on Lisette isn't very clear, plus she has a French name). According to 23andMe's Ancestry Finder, my grandma is 100% European - no Native American at all. Needless to say, it was a little surprising. There are a lot of tribes out there, and I wonder if there aren't tribes that have no representation in databases like this. It's even more difficult because we don't even know what tribe Lisette was from. I'm going to upload the results to Gedmatch.com and see if anything comes up there. I'm not quite ready to give up on my Indian princess ancestor yet!
Another cool thing I learned about this week was also in Ancestry Finder. Up until now, I thought I had to share genomes with someone to know where exactly on our DNA we matched and how long the match was. It turns out, if you go down to the bottom of the Ancestry Finder screen, there's a link that allows you to download all your Ancestry Finder matches for the person you're looking at. If you haven't shared genomes with a person on your list and they aren't a public match, they will show up in your list as Anonymous. But it gives you the chromosome number/letter, location of the match in megabase pairs (which I'm guessing is in millions, so a DNA segment that begins at 37 megabase pairs and ends at 77.4 megabase pairs would probably start at 37 million and end at 77.4 million. I'll have to look it up somewhere and double check though). But it also tells you where that person declared their parents and grandparents were born, and whether they declared Ashkenazi Jew for that person. That would be very cool to find a Jewish relative/ancestor somewhere, though it would also mean learning about a whole new ethnic group and set of records. I'm open to that though. Anyways, I now have three very large files of DNA matches to sort through and compare. Let the fun begin!

On the FTDNA front, once again, I'm still waiting for my results on my grandpa's mtDNA tests, my dad's mtDNA test, and my m.grandma's mtDNA test. Meanwhile, I still have two autosomal tests outstanding at 23andMe - still waiting to hear back on my mom's autosomal DNA test, hopefully within a week the results will come in. And I've mailed one off to a cousin on my Joseph side, but he's still waiting for the test to arrive. I'm really excited for my mom's test results to come in, as this will be the first known relative of a known relative I'll have tested. It will be fascinating to see how many matches she comes back with, and what segments of her DNA are from my m.grandfather.

I just checked FTDNA, and my grandpa's Y-DNA results are in!! I can't wait to get in and start looking at them! I've read about so many online databases I can plug the numbers into, hopefully one of them will have a match for me.
Lots discovered this week, but we've only scratched the surface of the tip of this iceberg!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Surname Saturday - Harris, Fulkerson, Johnson and more!

I will preface this post by warning you - the family connections I am about to reveal are so convoluted, it may be difficult to wrap your brain around them with just a written explanation. If you get lost in the words, please refer to this detailed diagram I drew just before midnight the night I was working on this:


The other night I had a little free time, so I started working on entering my Harris files. I was working on entering the marriage of Harlan Monroe Fulkerson (a cousin of my great-grandfather, James Harris) and Bertha Johnson, when something on the record seemed to jump out at me and smack me upside the head - the names of the witnesses for the marriage. The witnesses were Charles Scribner and Nettie Pascoe, both of whom were already in my database, but for a different reason - Charles' sister Charlotte Scribner was my great-grandfather James Harris' mother, and Nettie Pascoe was his wife (or future wife, as Harlan and Bertha's marriage preceded theirs by a couple months). At first I was completely puzzled - why would Charles be a witness for the marriage of his sister's nephew by marriage? Maybe they knew each other just by virtue of living in the same town, but that struck me as unlikely for some reason. I thought there had to be a closer connection than that.
Mariah Janette (Beardsley) (Johnson) Scribner
So I took another look at the bride and groom's data. Harlan's info was pretty straightforward - son of Monroe Fulkerson and Lucinda Harris, born in Montana, residing in Montana. Nothing that said "I know the Scribners" there. Ok, on to Bertha Johnson. Daughter of Frank Johnson and Carrie Tuttle Johnson, born in - Minnesota? That was interesting - Charles and Charlotte Scribner were originally from Minnesota, and had some half-siblings surnamed Johnson. Their mother, Mariah Janette Beardsley, had married Norton Johnson and had four kids by him before he died. (She then married widower Zachariah Scribner, and they had four additional children, including Charles and Charlotte.) Could Frank Johnson be related to Mariah and her first batch of children? I went to my files, and found that Mariah and Norton had indeed had a son named Frank, who had married a Carrie, and had six children - including a Bertha that was the perfect age for Harlan's wife! So Frank and Charlotte were related by blood to Harlan and Bertha respectively. Frank was Harlan's uncle, and Charlotte was Bertha's aunt, which made Charles her uncle. Now that I understood that, his presence as a witness for Bertha's marriage made much more sense. But, (as Dr. Seuss said) that was not all, oh no, that was not all.

Frank Johnson had another daughter, named Grace Johnson. This daughter married a guy named John Pascoe, Jr. This John turned out to be the brother of Nettie Pascoe, who married Charles Scribner. In other words, two siblings (Nettie Pascoe and John Pascoe, Jr.) married an uncle and niece (Charles Scribner and Grace Johnson). That means that the children from these marriages are both first cousins (because they share the same grandparents, John Pascoe Sr. and Annie Tonkin), and first cousins once removed (because they share Mariah Beardsley, grandmother of Charles and Nettie's kids, and great-grandmother of Grace and John's kids). How's that for confusing?

And just one more interesting little tidbit that I came across while trying to figure all of this out. Zachariah Scribner and his family, along with his stepson Frank Johnson and his family, were living in Elysian, Minnesota when the 1880 census was taken. They are listed right next to each other. But listed next to Frank was the family of Levi Van Blaricomb. Levi had a son named David, who in 1912 married Harlan Fulkerson's sister Alice (Fulkerson) Mowatt. In short - Bertha Johnson, as a five-year-old girl, lived near the future husband of her future sister-in-law.

Now aren't you glad I included that little diagram?

PS Levi Van Blaricomb's wife's maiden name was Sarah Johnson, and their oldest son was named Norton. But that's just a coincidence, right? Right?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Genes Day Friday - The next big step

Not much to update this Genes Day. The matches I'd found for my grandpa's autosomal DNA have pretty much stopped corresponding. I'm not sure, but I think it's because of a lack of any discernible common relatives. It's tough, because I've traced his mom's side back several more generations than his father's, so I feel like I'm at a disadvantage in looking for relatives on his dad's side. I really need to get going on my Gibson side at some point, and see if I can't extend my pedigree.

My paternal grandma's test turned up fewer matches, so I'm trying a different approach in contacting the matches. I'm looking for people that list the same or similar surnames as I've found in my family history research, and emailing them with some info on who we might be connected to. So far, no one has responded yet, but I'm hopeful. I can see why people usually submit these tests with a common relative or proposed common relative already located. This fishing for relatives is hard work!

On the up side, my dad took an mtDNA test and my mom took an autosomal DNA test this week. I was waiting for my grandma to get back from vacation when I realized - my dad has the exact same mtDNA! So that takes care of all the DNA tests I was going to put my grandparents through. Plus, now that my mom and her mom have both completed autosomal DNA tests, by comparing my mom's autosomal results to my grandma's, I can begin figuring out what my maternal grandfather's DNA looked like. Anyone who matches my mom but doesn't match my grandma is more than likely a relative on my grandfather's side, so I'll (hopefully) be able to start assigning specific parts of her DNA to my mom's dad's side of my family. I'm also interested to see who matches my grandma, and how many of her matches also match my mom, and what the predicted relationship is. I'd like to get my aunt and uncle to test as well, but that can wait for now (especially since those tests are now $300 a pop!).

A relative on my paternal grandfather's Joseph side is going to have his aunt or uncle (my grandpa's 2nd cousin) take an autosomal test as well. This is the first known relative on my grandpa's side to take a test, so I'm excited to see how they match up. I'll be able to assign any common DNA between them to my Joseph side. Plus, anyone that matches the two of them is bound to be a relative on that side as well.

I'm still waiting to hear back from FTDNA on my grandpa's Y-DNA test and my maternal grandma's mtDNA test. Feels like I've been waiting forever! I know the results will come in eventually, but this waiting thing is just killing me.

I'm starting to think that I've just been building the foundation of a very complicated, long-term project. I love long-term projects though - gives me something to work towards, and a purpose for all this DNA testing. Plus it's exciting to see it begin to take shape and come together. What will it be when it's done? Well that depends on two things - how many relatives I can find and convince to get tested, and whether I ever decide that I'm done.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Frank and Charlotte (Scribner) Harris

This is an undated picture of my 2nd-great-grandparents, Frank Harris and Charlotte Scribner. Charlotte was born in LeSeuer, Minnesota in 1872, and moved to Montana with her family. Frank was born in Stevensville, Montana in 1862, and lived his whole life in Montana. They married in 1891 and had nine children, including my great-grandfather, James Harris. Frank died in 1935, and Charlotte passed away in 1947.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Two for the price of...two

The big news this Genes Day is - my paternal grandmother's test results are in! I now have double the data to go through! I've looked at her maternal haplogroup - U5a2b, similar to my paternal grandfather's U5b2a1 (well, not so similar, I guess). But both of their mothers were German immigrants (a fact which only dawned on me this week, actually), so it makes sense that there should be at least some similarity in their background.

One thing I noticed right away - she only had about 300 some matches, while my grandpa had over 900. I found this very odd, since her family has been in the US much, much longer (on some lines, at least) than his. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw in terms of who's tested, and who comes from where, but I expected my grandma to have many more matches than my grandpa. Just goes to show, you never know what you'll discover when you take these tests.

One thing that was somewhat of a surprise, but also somewhat expected (though I had no way of knowing for sure) was her genetic admixture - 100% European, just like my grandpa. With her mom being a German immigrant from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, I figured that side would be European. Her direct paternal line, the Wagners, were also Germans, with her grandfather being born just before or just after the immigration (that line is still kinda fuzzy, a situation I hope to remedy with further DNA testing in the future). It's her paternal grandmother's ancestry, the Shutes, that have deep American roots. Her 2nd-great-grandfather, Alexander Blood Shute, served in the Civil War, and many of the lines look like they go back at least to the 1700s here in America. Being that it goes so far back, I thought it at least possible that there was at least some ancestor who wasn't European. But, at least so far, it doesn't look that way.

One feature I really like on 23andMe is the Ancestry Finder, which tells you where certain segments of your DNA are likely to have originated (based on connections found with other people who have at least parents and usually grandparents from that country). The top two matches were Austria and Slovakia (0.8% and 0.6% respectively), which I thought made total sense, given that my grandma's mother's family came from Rosshaupt/Rozvadov in the Czech Republic. There were plenty of surprises though - Russia tied with Slovkia at 0.6%, Netherlands and Finland tied at third with 0.2%, and coming in fourth with 0.1% were the United Kingdom, Denmark, and - Germany? Wait a minute - my grandma's mom was German, her dad was half German, and Germany gets tied for last place? How does that work? I really expected it to be higher on the list. Again, it could just be a matter of who's tested, and where their ancestry is from, but with German ancestry being so much a part of my grandma's ancestry, I find this more surprising than the presence of Russia, Finland, and Denmark on the list of hits - though those are pretty big surprises on their own. I'm going to have to spend some time with this thing, and figure out exactly how this all works (if that's even possible).

In other genetic news - I've ordered a couple more autosomal tests. You'll probably think I'm crazy for doing so, and I'm inclined to agree with you. But 23andMe kinda forced my hand with their switch in policies this week. They won't be offering subscription based tests anymore - no more $99 and $9 a month. From now on, as of 5pm this Thursday, all autosomal tests are $300 flat (or something like that). That's going to change how and when I do my autosomal testing - so good thing I got my grandparents all done when it was affordable! I bought two more - one for my mom, to try and get an idea of what my maternal grandfather's autosomal DNA looked like, and one for another relative to be determined. All told, I'll have five autosomal tests - three grandparents, one parent, and one other relative somewhere. I'll have to test my mom's siblings down the road somewhere, but there's no rush at present (especially since I now have to figure out whether to keep it at 23andMe, or do it through FTDNA).

I'm still waiting for the results of my grandpa's Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. If I'm reading it correctly, the FTDNA site says the results will be ready at the end of June. I've already been waiting close to a month, and now I've got another 7 weeks to wait! I wonder if they're usually this slow, or just swamped with orders because of their DNA Day sale.

Also, I've finished reading a few books on the subject, that have really helped. In fact, the order I've read them in has turned out perfect for my education. Here they are, in the order I read them:

The Seven Daughters of Eve
Tracing Your Roots With DNA
Deep Ancestry - Inside the Genographic Project
DNA & Genealogy
DNA and Social Networking (currently reading)

CeCe Moore recommended these books to me, and they have been a HUGE help to me in getting my feet grounded in this incredibly complex field. I would heartily recommend them all to anyone looking to get started in this field.

So that's where things stand today. Two test results in, two more in process, and a couple of tests yet to be administered. I can honestly say I LOVE this stuff! It just excites me to no end seeing all the things I can learn from genetic genealogy. I know I made the right decision in jumping into this field when and how I did. I just need to keep learning, and keep researching, and (as money affords) keep testing.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday - City directories galore!

I went on Ancestry.com the other day, to see if I could find anything about my 2nd-great-grandfather, John Gibson, in Montana. It'd been a while since I just did an open search, and I wasn't sure anything would come up. But it did, and in a big way! Ancestry now has (or maybe has had for a while, and I just never noticed) a huge database of city directories from all over the country, all lumped into one database called U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. I found him in 18 - yes 18! - separate directories, all giving address, occupation, and limited family info. I also found his father-in-law, Dennis Cain/Kane, listed in several of them, including the one for the year after his death, which listed his death date. I'm very excited to go through them and catalog everything it tells me about him. Hopefully I'll find something that will help me dig up more details on him and his family in Canada.

Then, just because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went and searched for Samuel Joseph, another 2nd-great-grandfather, who spent several years in Anaconda, Montana. I only found him in a couple of them, but found many more (about a dozen) for his son, Elmer/Emil Joseph. They also had info on his wife and several of his kids. I know I just got done with going through all my Joseph files, but I couldn't resist trying to find more clues about Sam and his whereabouts in the 1910s and 1920s.

I know there a LOT more relatives I need to look for in this directories database, but just don't have the time to do so. I've still got a lot of Harris records to search through, DNA tests to analyze, and a new membership at SGGEE to fully utilize (thanks again, Jim!!). One day things will slow down, right? Right?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Genes Day Friday - Same Segment, More Matches

This has been a very enlightening Friday for me! I was disappointed to hear my one of my grandmother's samples had insufficient DNA for testing, and will need to be resubmitted. That means more waiting for the kit to arrive, then to ship back, and then to test. I'm trying to be patient, but it's not easy!

In the mean time, I've been going through my grandfather's autosomal DNA matches, and inviting them to share genome info. It's been really neat to go through and see where on his DNA these possible relatives match up. I haven't had much chance to correspond a lot with anyone yet, so no 'aha' moments or connections via paper trail to any other testers yet. But I have had 15 people so far agree to share data, which I don't think is too bad for only having had access to this for a week or two.

Chromosome 10 matches between
my grandpa and 3 others
I've been compiling a spreadsheet (yes, I track my genealogy data in spreadsheets) and found something very interesting - my grandfather shares the same segment of DNA with three other people! Same chromosome, almost exactly same length. How common is that? What's more the DNA in common has a cM of 12.1, 12.7, or 14.4, depending on the relative. According to FamilyTreeDNA, a cM of 10.0 or higher indicates conclusively that you share ancestry. It looks like there are 4 descendants of the same ancestor here, we just need to figure out where and how we connect. I emailed the three of them tonight, and hopefully we'll be able to start working on this soon. That's one thing I've really enjoyed doing in genealogy - teaming up with other researchers and working out a problem together. It's just fun, exciting, and rewarding all at the same time.

On the other testing fronts - still no results for my grandfather's Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, or my other grandmother's autosomal test. One grandmother submitted her mtDNA test, and I have the kit for the last one, I just need to get my grandma to take it. So for those tests, it's still a waiting game. But as more and more matches to my grandfather's DNA agree to share results, I'm hoping to come across similar situations, and keep building more connections and a larger family tree. That's what this is all about right?

Friend of Friends Friday - the slaves of Lucinda (Berry) Harris

This is my first real look at the details of the slaves owned by my 4th-great-grandmother, Lucinda Harris, while she lived in Platte County, Missouri. She and her children lived there between 1850-1860 at least, but left for Montana sometime between 1860 and 1870, presumably after the Civil War emancipated her slaves.

In the 1850 US Federal Census slave schedule, Lucinda is listed as owning 12 slaves, all black (no mixed/mulattoes). They, along with Lucinda and her seven children (ages 6 to 22) lived on land Lucinda owned in Green Township, Platte County, Missouri. The slaves are known only by ages and gender, as follows:

34 f
32 m
23 f
22 m
8 f
6 m
6 m
5 m
4 f
4 f
3 m
1/12 m (1 month old male)

It looks like she possibly had two families - two adults in their 30s, two adults in their 20s, and eight children, possibly even two sets of twins.

Then, in 1860, Lucinda is found in Weston Township, Platte County, Missouri, with only two of her children still living with her, John and Lewis, as well as Lewis' presumed wife Mary and their (again presumed) son Lewis. There's another man named F. P. Vaughn, but I have no idea who he was, maybe a boarder. At this time, Lucinda owned 14 slaves, but the ages for many of them don't match up to those of the slaves listed in 1850. I'm guessing that those missing were either sold or had died in the interim. Here are the details of the 1860 slaves, again all black:

45 m (possibly same as person 1 in 1850)
21 f
18 f (possibly same as person 5 in 1850)
17 m (possibly same as person 6 in 1850)
17 m (possibly same as person 7 in 1850)
24 f
16 f
14 m
13 m (possibly same as person 11 in 1850)
11 m (possibly same as person 12 in 1850)
7 m
5 f
4 f
2 f

Just going by ages and genders, it looks like only one of the adults listed in 1850 is still listed with Lucinda in 1860. Five of the children in the 1860 list look like they could be some of those listed in 1850, including the possible twin boys. So of the 14 slaves she owned in 1860, it looks like four of them were owned by someone else in 1850, and four of them were not then born. At least the little ones in 1860 would only have five more years before they were freed, and hopefully would not have to remember too much of what it was like being a slave.

At this point, this is all I know about them. I'm hoping to find out whether Woodford County, Kentucky kept a register of slaves received through wills, like I saw on a recent episode of Finding Your Roots. If Lucinda received any of these slaves through her husband's or father's, that register might give some more details. This is important, because we have a family story that some of the emancipated slaves moved to Montana with Lucinda, and I would like to see if I can find record of any of the freed slaves living in Montana. Knowing the names of those slaves owned by Lucinda in Missouri would be a big step towards knowing who to look for in Montana.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Grace and Mann

Lewis Harris, my great-great-grandfather Frank Benjamin Harris' brother, joined a very complicated family when he married Ella Coleman in 1898. I found their marriage record about a year ago on FamilySearch's Montana marriages database. The marriage record itself was pretty straightforward - Lewis is listed as the son of Thomas and Lizette Harris, which matches my records exactly. It was Ella's parents that threw me - Wash Man and Lucretia Grace. My first thought was that Ella's father might have been Native American - I didn't see where else a name like Wash Man could have come from. Lucretia Grace was a very interesting name as well, and made me wonder if Grace was her last name or a middle name. I figured I'd look more for them later, and moved on. Now that I've started going through my Harris files, I finally came back to them, and began to try to work out the details of this family.

I found Lewis and Ella in the 1910 census, with two step children, Albert and Myrtle Coleman (from a presumed first marriage of Ella's to a Coleman) with Lewis' sister-in-law Grace Click living with them. I figured Grace would have been Ella's sister (as I knew of no Click's marrying any of Lewis' siblings) and, given Grace's marital status was single, thought that meant Ella's maiden name was Click. Case closed, right? That sounded plausible, but just didn't feel right. So, to find more about Ella, I tried looking at the marriage records of her children from her first marriage. They weren't too hard to find, fortunately. Myrtle married twice, first to Tom Miller in 1911, and then to Martin Wallace in 1917. In both records, she said her father was B.W. Coleman, and her mother was Ella Harris (or E. Coleman, now Harris). That told me who her father was, but nothing about her mother's maiden name. Albert's marriage record was about equally as helpful - his father was listed as Ben. W. Coleman, and his mother's maiden name was Ellen Harris. That didn't sit right either - how could her maiden name have been Harris, if her father was "Wash Man", and she only took the Harris name when she married Lewis?

Given that Ella was apparently from Iowa (according to her marriage record and the 1910 census), I went to FamilySearch and just did a search for Lucretia Grace in Iowa. What I found was startling - a marriage record in 1859 between Lucretia Grace and George W. Maun. Suddenly the name Wash Man made much more sense - George Washington Man/Maun! Now I was excited!

I went back to the Montana marriages database, and did a search there for Lucretia Grace, and the records just jumped out at me - I found a marriage for a James Wise and Grace Clark (not Click), daughter of Lucretia Grace and - Ben Coleman? I decided to ignore that anomaly for the time being. In this case, Montana's marriage (and divorce) culture worked in my favor, as Grace married again in 1917 to John Harris (no known relation to my Harrises). Her marriage license for this marriage was actually on the same page as Myrtle Coleman's marriage to Martin Wallace. This time, Grace's parents were listed as Lucy Grace and B. M. Mann. The mom's name fit, and the dad's was halfway there. I was certain I had the right bride, as the witnesses for the marriage were L.A. Harris and Ella Harris - too perfect a fit to be pure coincidence.

I went back to my search results, as there was one more hit for Lucretia Grace, again as the mother, but this time to a Minnie Henderson. Minnie married Sylvester Babbitt in 1899, and her father was none other than Geo. W. Mann. This was beginning to feel pretty good. I went back to Lewis and Ella's marriage license, the one that set this whole thing in motion, and there I noticed something that seemed to wrap the whole thing together, and confirm all I'd found. One of the witnesses for Lewis and Ella's wedding was Mrs. Minnie Babbitt!

So, to sum up - George Washington Mann and Lucretia Grace, married in 1859 in Polk County, Iowa, were the parents of three daughters - Minnie, Grace, and Ella. Minnie married a Henderson, and then Sylvester Babbitt. Grace married a Clark, then James Wise, and then Martin Wallace. Ella married Ben W. Coleman, then Lewis Harris. Sounds pretty simple when you lay it out like that, but it took a lot of work to get to that point. Now I can finally put this family together in my database, and move on to the next challenge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Genes Day Friday - The results are in! Now what?

The results of my grandfather's autosomal DNA test are in! So far, I've had my hands full with life in general, so I haven't had all the time I've wanted to look at what 23andMe.com has to say about my grandfather's DNA, but I have learned quite a bit:

My Y-DNA haplogroup is R1b1b2a1a1d1* - or more easily written as L47 (the genetic marker that differentiates it from the rest of the world). R1b, as I understand it, is the most common haplogroup in Europe, but the descendant branch of R1b I'm related to, with the L47 marker, means I'm from a different branch of that R1b tree that they haven't fully connected yet. Sounds just like the rest of my genealogy research. But my haplogroup is found mostly in western Europe, which is where my Gibsons are from, so that makes perfect sense.

My grandfather's mtDNA haplogroup is U5b2a1. This would be his maternal line, through his mother Augusta Joseph, her mother Pauline Rosen, and so on. This is the line on my grandfather's side I know the least about. But according to the maps on 23andMe.com, this haplogroup is most common in northern Scandinavia! So does that mean Pauline has Scandinavian roots? It'd be fascinating if she did. If you've read The Seven Daughters of Eve, this puts me in the Ursula clan, the oldest of the seven major European clans.

One thing that didn't surprise me, but was still very gratifying to see, was my grandfather's Ancestry Painting - basically a breakdown of his percentages of European, Asian, and African ancestry. Given that he is the son of full-blooded Irish father and German mother, I expected him to be 100% European, which in fact, he is. To me, that says the paper trial I've found on his ancestors is accurate - very good news indeed!
With 23andMe.com's Relative Finder, they can tell you who matches your DNA haplotype, what your percentage of common DNA is (outside of the 99.9% we all share with every other human being), and what your predicted relationship is to that person. One thing that kinda surprised me was the fact that you have to click to accept being able to view close matches. It had a little blurb about some people being interested to see close matches, but some people finding it uncomfortable or upsetting. My first thought was "I'm hoping to find close matches, bring them on!" But then I thought, for someone was may not be expecting close relatives to pop up on here, finding someone very closely related might be more upsetting than not - finding a sibling or aunt you never knew about, for example, could lead to lots of uncomfortable (and perhaps unanswerable) questions. But I clicked "view" and no one closer than the group I was already seeing appeared.

I was very surprised, however, to see that at the top of the list of matches was someone with a predicted relationship of 2nd cousin. If this is correct, that means one of his parents was a first cousin to one my grandfather's parents! I quickly sent an introduction to this mystery man (23andMe.com keeps all details private until you connect with that person and they connect to you). So far, no response. But I'm hoping that he'll log on and see he has a 2nd cousin (twice removed) waiting to talk to him. I mean, why go through the cost and trouble of taking a test, if you're not going to talk to the people you match up with?

I've also signed up with GedMatch.com, which can take your DNA results from companies like 23andMe and compare them, helping you find other matches. So far, I haven't been able to go through the 99 pages of results - they give you charts and graphs and lists like nobody's business, and I'm still trying to make sense of them all.

That's where I'm at with my grandfather's autosomal results. Lots to take in, huh? The autosomal tests for both my grandmothers are in process right now, so I'm about to triple the amount of DNA-related data I have in front of me! Not only that, I've got a Y-STR test (67 markers) and mtDNA test for my grandfather in the works as well. I'm just waiting for the mtDNA tests for my grandmothers to come in the mail. Thank you for the DNA Day sale, FTDNA! I wouldn't have been able to afford all those mtDNA tests, but FTDNA made them completely irresistible at $59. I'll eventually upgrade them to full-sequence mtDNA tests, but for now, a basic test should be enough to whet my appetite.

A lot has happened since last week, and it's only going to get more nuts - more tests, more results, and hopefully, more relatives to compare notes with. But I love it!