Friday, January 27, 2017

Genes Day Friday - My AncestryDNA Results: Ethnicity Breakdown

It's been a few weeks since my AncestryDNA results came back, so I thought I'd take a minute to start looking at them, see what they have to say. In this first installment, I'm taking a quick look at the part everyone seems to think of first/most when they think of DNA tests for genealogy - the ethnicity results.

My genetic genealogy research thus far has taught me that ethnicity results can reveal a lot, both by what you see and what you don't see. It was one of my grandparents' ethnicity results that tipped me off that something was not as it should be, and led me to one of the most shocking discoveries in all of my family history research. Thankfully, with my own results, there was nothing so earth-shattering. But it has been interesting to analyze.

So according to Ancestry, my genetic heritage comes from three main areas - Europe West, Scandinavia, and Ireland. Knowing what I know from paper trail research, this sounds pretty good so far. Let's take a look at my pedigree and compare. FYI, the names of living ancestors have been removed to protect the innocent.

Let's take the smallest of the three main percentages first. Ireland is where my paternal grandfather's father's side is from. Four of my 3rd-great-grandparents - the Gibsons, Cains, and Mulhearns - all came from Ireland, Gibsons from County Fermanagh, Cains from County Tyrone, and Mulhearns from parts as yet unknown. (Nice rhyming!) Ireland got 6% of my genetic heritage, while my Irish ancestry is about 1/8, or 12.5%. So what gives? Given that my Gibson surname isn't your typical Irish name, I have a sneaking suspicion that they were originally from England. When I went to a workshop put on by the Ulster Historical Foundation, and bought a book called 'Men and arms' - The Ulster settlers, c. 1630. It's all about military men from England moving into Ireland in the early 1600s. There were even records of at least 3 Gibsons moving into County Fermanagh. I kind of fancied that my Gibson ancestors were among them, moving into Ulster, and settling down in County Fermanagh for a couple hundred years, until they moved to Canada. I have no proof of that, of course, so I'll need to do further research and see if I can't go back beyond Henry Gibson and see where those Gibsons originated from before they got to Ireland.

Scandinavian was the next highest percentage, with almost 20%. I have a lot of Norwegian ancestry on my maternal grandfather's side - his last name was Bergstad, if that tells you anything. On that side, I have Olsons and Hammers and Fadnesses and Sjursens and all kinds of good Norwegian names. Out of my 32 great-grandparents, 5 of them were Norwegian, 4 of them born in Norway and one being the child of Norwegian immigrants. Mathematically that works out to about 16%, so that's right on the money. I'm ok with a little extra Viking blood in my veins!

Now for Europe West. Ancestry defines their Europe West area as covering "Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein," and also "England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic." If I stick with just France and Germany, that covers 17 of my 32 3rd-great-grandparents (counting the Germans from outside of Germany as Germans). Then I have a couple of English or presumed-English/Scottish lines counting for another 6 of the 32. So that's 23 out of 32, or about 71%. Ancestry gives me 65%, so that's pretty dang close!

I know that ethnicity estimates are exactly that - estimates. As Judy Russell has said more than once, these numbers are really good for conversation pieces and not much else at this point. But on the whole, I think my numbers look pretty good when compared to my paper trail genealogy. And that is really encouraging, both in germs of genetic genealogy matching paper genealogy, and paper genealogy matching the DNA report. I'm looking forward to even more detailed analysis as these tools get more and more precise and refined.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Terrible anniversaries

I wanted a better title to this post, but this seemed the most fitting. I don't know what else you'd call the anniversary of losing a loved one.

Grandma Sally and Grandpa Jim

January 6th this year marked three years since my grandpa James Lee "Jim" Crawford passed away. The last few years of his life, he'd had a number of close calls, and I honestly thought that there would be more before he actually passed away. But the last one hit, and he was gone before we got a chance to go over and say goodbye.

Grandma Blossom in 2012

Today marks four years since my paternal grandmother, Rosemary Blossom (Wagner) (Nelson) Gibson went to heaven. I find myself unable to believe it's been that long, yet it feels like forever since I heard her inimitable laugh, or the way she exclaimed "well forever more!" at something she couldn't believe. She passed away a year and two months before my second son was born, so she never got to meet him.

Levi in early December 2016
Monday marked one month since my little Levi joined Grandpa Jim and Grandma Blossom in heaven. I cannot believe it has only been one month - it has felt like years, many years. Not a day has gone by that I don't spend time looking at a picture of him (I have a picture of our family at the church Christmas party on my wall at work, taken one week before he passed away). I make sure to show pictures of him to my 2 year old, and talk about him, and mention him in our prayers. I don't want his memory to fade or be forgotten. He is and always will be a part of our family. He's just moved to the next stage of life earlier than the rest of us. I'm at peace with that - I know where he is and how he is doing. I just miss him so, so much.
As time goes on, I know there will be more of these terrible anniversaries to remember. But with each parting, my family in heaven grows. And especially since Levi's passing, I find myself not being so anxious or unsure of my own eventual crossing of that gateway. Instead, I have a growing number of sweet reunions to anticipate, in a place removed from all the difficulties and problems of this world. So while I will work and fight to stay in the here and now, I have so much to look forward to in the there and then. Not the least of which is some quality time with loved ones who I am dearly missing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Tale of Two Wills - The sons of William and the daughters of Jessie

I had some free time the other night, and jumped into my own family tree for an hour or two. I was looking through my lines, trying to decide which one to research, when my Bergstad line caught my eye. I started sifting through them, and came upon Turby Bergstad, the oldest child of my 2nd-great-grandparents Knute Bergstad and Betsy Olson. As I was looking at her husband, William Clyde Cornell, and their children (among whom was Andy Cornell, my grandpa Tom Bergstad's cousin and close friend), I saw that I didn't have really any info on William - no parents, siblings, or anything. I went digging, and pretty soon found his family in census records in Wisconsin, where he was from. I found his parents were William H. Cornell and Jessie Butterfield. William the dad was from Vermont, while Jessie was from Wisconsin. William's parents were Stephen Cornell and Almira Wolridge, while Jessie's parents were Thaddeus Butterfield and Jessie Webb. I have always liked the name Thaddeus, ever since I saw Disney's Atlantis, and now I'm (distantly) related to one!

I wanted to see what happened to William and Jessie, so I poked around Ancestry for a while, and found that they both left wills. Bonus! I found Jessie's first, but as I read through it, I found something I have never seen in a will - she deliberately left her sons out of her will, and said so. She even said why she was doing it - because they would be provided for in her husband's will. The exact language is:

I do not devise or bequeath to my sons any of my property, for I expect they will be taken care of in the will of my husband. 

She left everything to her daughters, and described how everything was to be divvied up between the three of them. The will was dated 4 December 1917, but I haven't found Jessie's death info yet, so I don't know how much time passed between when her will was written and when it was probated. Unless Jessie's husband was near death though, she was leaving her sons' inheritance to be settled potentially decades in the future.

So how long was it between the two wills? About ten years, as William's will was recorded on 4 October 1927. And just like Jessie's will, William's specifically leaves out his daughters with these words:
I do not make any bequests or devises to my daughters, Jessie Bredesen and Grace Browning, for the reason that I have helped them some what in the past and because they have been provided for by the will of my deceased wife, she having made certain provisions for them in her will.

So obviously this was planned out intentionally by Jessie and William (and it looks like one of the daughters died between the making of the two wills). I have to wonder what made them decide to do this. There doesn't seem to be any ill will for the sons or daughters by either parent, or bad feeling for either parent for each other. Maybe they thought that was how you do it - men for men and women for women. Would they have still done this if they had had fewer children? I wonder what their children thought of the deal, and whether either group thought they were being dealt with unfairly. There's no way to know for sure, of course, but I do wonder.

It just goes to show you, every ancestor, every document, is an individual case, and you really could find anything in it.