January 2020


So, this is the point where I look around and realize that I have actually posted the majority of my “favorite” photos over the years I’ve had this blog. Browse the Photographs category for a fun range of pics. As I’ve noted before, photography is something that many parts of my family have gravitated towards–my maternal grandmother’s line in particular left a ton of (unidentified) photos to the family. But for the purposes of this challenge one particular picture did come to mind.

Robert Shea with a Banjo and Cora (Packer) Shea both seated in front of a log cabin.

Robert Shea with a Banjo and Cora (Packer) Shea both seated in front of a log cabin.

This old tinted shot of my maternal grandmother’s parents, Robert and Cora (Packer) Shea, makes me think it should be an old bluegrass album cover. Weirdly, this is the first time I’ve noticed all the shadows in the foreground. They bring to mind Robert’s many brothers–in fact the hat shape of the middle shadow on the right hand side–makes me think immediately of this shot. I don’t know if Grandpa Shea actually played banjo or not. And I’m not sure where this was taken. I suspect though, that it is after their wedding in August of 1922.

Happy hunting,

Cheers,

Jess

I’ve again decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. And I’m already off to a slow start—indecisive about what I want to talk about. Or maybe more accurately indecisive about whether I should tell the story I want to talk about. It’s not a secret per say but it still feels like it falls into the realm of delicate.

Back in 2018, I started talking around an NPE (I’m running with Judy Russell here and translating as “Not the Parent Expected”) in my Genetic research. In other words, after a long time of looking at our matches that didn’t quite make sense and a conversation with someone who should have been registering as a first cousin but wasn’t a match at all, it was clear that one of my grandparents was not actually a genetic match to my parent.  One of my aunts tested to confirm the findings—proving she and my parent were only half siblings. Trauma and angst aside that changed my research dramatically.

I now had another family to figure out. But luckily, we had a lot of matches to work with and my aunt as a match that I could use to help narrow down the possibilities through our non-shared matches. The discovery prompted a deep dive into doing genetic research—with huge thanks to Blaine Bettinger, Diahan Southard, Judy Russell, and Angie Bush whose presentations I have attended and hung on their every word, the members of the Capital Area DNA Interest Group which grew out of  our community need for help with these kinds of experiences, and Ancestry’s Crista Cowan who in a prize consult took a quick look over my theory and basically said yes you’re on the right track.

I was able to lay out our matches and identify, not my actual grandparent—it’s one of four siblings—but very definitely their parents. I had a surname and a large extended family through a multitude of verifiable trees. It has introduced me to research in different counties and states, as well as my first experiences using records like the Dawes Rolls (no, I’m not indigenous), a very informative disputed will, and a first known relative who was a member of the United States Colored Troops (with a gigantic informative pension file).

Dawes Example

This is the family of a 3rd Great Aunt by marriage who were Choctaw Freedmen.

In short starting this line over—no matter how jarring at the time—has opened me up to so many new and interesting experiences. And honestly, we, the addicts, are always looking for a new line to trace.

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.S. The above-mentioned Capital Area DNA Group will hold its quarterly meeting at CADL Downtown Lansing on January 25th., 10-12 pm. Join us!