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!

It’s been a weather eventful winter here in Michigan and January and February felt like we were just hanging on for dear life. But in the background plans were being made. So, stay tuned for a number of event announcements, starting with this one (below) put on annually but my local library system, Capital Area District Libraries. There are sessions for all skill levels and time for discussion with fellow researchers. Follow this link for a pdf of the handout: Family History Open House 2019 Final.

Join us!

Jess

FamilyHistoryOpenHouse

I went looking for an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of this title after catching an exchange between @CleverTitleTK (Fight on #resistancegenealogy!) and the author. @weiss_squad and @PRHLibrary came through for me!

Cover ImageFamily secrets, DNA, nature and nurture…

As a memoirist Shapiro has written extensively on her family and relationships which no doubt made the results of her DNA test all the more disconcerting. In Inheritance she presents a heartfelt chronicle of the discovery of a non-Jewish 1st cousin in her results, the research to discover her surprise biological paternal family, and the initial correspondence with her genetic father, all alongside her anguish over what that meant for her relationships with her social father and mother—both deceased.

For me this was a bit close to home and I will admit to putting it down briefly as her pain and confusion came off the page. As a genealogist this isn’t a particularly new story to me but, given recent revelations in my own family, it was a timely and emotional read. As the popularity of commercial DNA tests grows it is obvious that stories like this will continue to come to light and Dani Shapiro offers here a thoughtful examination of her feelings, motivations, and fears that can be of comfort to people with similar stories.

Happy reading and hunting!

Jess

DNAimage

I’ve been an advocate for DNA testing from the moment it became affordable (to me) as a fabulous source for crowd-sourcing research, possibly confirming theories and outright conquering brick walls. And as I started presenting more, I’ve tried to remind people that you do have to be ready for what you find. While DNA can confirm your research, it can also completely undermine it.

My family has now confirmed that one of my close relatives is not the genetic child of the man that raised them. Needless to say, after working on these lines for 20+ years, this was a surprise. I can’t say I didn’t have an inkling that something was up (based on matches over the years—or lack thereof), but I assumed that any discrepancy was farther up the line. But now that a few more close relatives have tested, I’m starting to research a new line and luckily the relative with the “new” father seems to be taking it in stride. That whole experience—which really, we’re still working through—has put me in the middle of a lot of DNA discussions, found me attending every DNA related class/webinar/discussion I can squeeze in, and forced me to re-evaluate how I use my DNA results. In fact, this may just end up being a DNA focused year for me.

With that in mind if you’re in a similar position, just getting started with DNA testing, or have tests but don’t know what to do with the results, here’s a few things I’ve found and wanted to share—especially for Michigan area researchers:

I think it’s going to be a fascinating year!

Happy hunting!

Jess

Note: If you have DNA SIGS in your area, have go-to DNA resources people should know about, etc. Feel free to post to comments!

I got out bright and early Saturday morning for Tim Pinnick’s packed and very informative presentation on newspapers which introduced me to Kenneth R. Mark’s The Ancestor Hunt. Which, of course, just made me want to go back to wandering newspaper archives.

I also enjoyed presentations by Wevonneda Minis on Asylum records and one by Janice Lovelace on Railroad records. And I closed out the conference by attending Diahan Southard’s “YDNA and atDNA” program which had a case study that mirrors a possible “non-paternal event” we may have identified in my family.

Again, I learned a lot at the conference, met new people and/or finally had time to talk to people I’d barely met before. I also felt reinvigorated with ideas to take back to my home societies that I’m hoping can be worked into our long-range plans.

If you get a chance, try a national genealogy conference like NGC 2018 in Grand Rapids or FGS 2018 in Fort Wayne. Hotels for both are already open!

Happy hunting,

Jess